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College Green
View of College Green showing Queen Victoria statue, Cathedral and Council House, with restored cast iron lamp post in foreground
College Green showing Queen Victoria statue, Cathedral and Council House
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Location Bristol
Area 1.1ha
Created 12th century
Operated by Dean and Chapter of Bristol Cathedral

College Green is a public open space in Bristol, England. The Green takes the form of a segment of a circle with its apex pointing east, and covers 1.1 hectares (2.7 acres). The road named College Green forms the north-eastern boundary of the Green, Bristol Cathedral marks the south side, and City Hall (formerly the Council House) closes the Green in an arc to the north-west.

College Green is owned by the Dean and Chapter of Bristol Cathedral, and managed by Bristol City Council.


Originally a small hill north of the River Avon separated from Brandon Hill to the north west by a narrow gully, College Green was enclosed to form the precincts of St Augustine's Abbey (now Bristol Cathedral) in the 12th century. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey became a collegiate church and its precincts thenceforth became known as 'College Green'.

The Bristol High Cross was moved here from its original location at the junction of High, Wine, Broad and Corn streets, where it had been considered a traffic hazard, in 1733. In 1762 the Green was levelled and laid out as a raised park with stone boundary walls, railings and formal promenades crossing at its centre. The High Cross was relegated to a corner of the Green, and in 1768 it was given to Henry Hoare for use as a garden ornament at Stourhead, where it can still be seen.

The name 'College Green' also applied to the road which passed on either side of the Green. The southern leg of this formed part of the main route out of Bristol heading to the south-west and separated the Green from the Cathedral, whilst the north-eastern leg led towards Clifton. In 1850 a replica of the High Cross was erected and placed at the apex of the Green. This remained here until a statue of Queen Victoria took its place in 1888, at which time the Cross was moved to the centre of the Green, at the intersection of the formal promenades. For the next sixty years the Green remained a leafy oasis, insulated from the busy roads on either side by tall trees, though slightly diminished by the removal of the outer row of trees on the north-eastern side for road-widening in 1926.

In 1950 at the request of Vincent Harris, controversial architect of the Council House, all remaining trees, the formal promenades, statue and High Cross were removed and the Green lowered to street level. Harris stated that this "would 'make' my building", and considered the removal of the statue and High Cross "a minor detail". Wide new promenades were laid out running parallel to the sides of the Green, with low Portland stone borders.

After a period of storage at Redcliffe Wharf during which other locations were considered, and following a campaign for its return, the statue of Queen Victoria was returned to the apex on the Green in 1953. Part of the replica High Cross, vandalised in storage, is now preserved in Berkeley Square.

In 1991 the southern perimeter road was closed to through traffic and grassed over for much of its length, uniting the Cathedral with its Green. The eastern end was retained to give access to buildings to the east of the Cathedral, re-laid with reclaimed setts. As part of this enhancement scheme, a circular seating area was laid out near the apex and reclaimed cast-iron lamp posts were installed.

Sites of Interest

College Green is surrounded by a number of historic and important public buildings, including the Council House, the Lord Mayor's Chapel, the Cathedral and the Abbey Gatehouse.

Queen Victoria's statue stands at the apex of the Green, and in the south-western corner near the Central Library is a statue of social reformer Raja Rammohun Roy.


College Green is a popular meeting place for young people, particularly street sports enthusiasts. This has led to tensions, and in 2007 a Group Dispersal Order was served on the area to allow the police to prevent groups of young people congregating.

With its proximity to City Hall (formerly the Council House), College Green is often the focus of protests against local or national government policy. On 15 October 2011, it became the site for Occupy Bristol, a camp established as part of the worldwide "Occupy" protests against social and economic inequality. Following the removal of the protesters, and after nearly two months and £20,000 of remedial work, the Green was re-opened on 4 April 2012.

College Green is a regular venue for media launches, press calls, charity fundraisers and product launches

There were plans to place a 50m high observation wheel on College Green in summer 2011, however the location was changed to the Broadmead shopping area in the city centre and is open for public between from 11 February until 8 May.


In Popular Culture

College Green is mentioned in 'Wash Away', a song by Bristol-based band Coasts from their debut album 'Coasts'.

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