St Paul’s Lecture Hall

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Upper Park Street, Clifton (Now Southleigh Road)

Recovering from a breakdown in his health in 1868, Symonds wrote to his friend Mrs Arthur Hugh Clough (Blanche Mary Shore Smith):

“I hear from my sister, and a connection of the Marshalls, a Miss Douglas, that a Ladies’ Education Scheme is going on at Clifton. If I get home to England soon enough I think I shall try to put my finger into that pie.”1

These plans bore fruit in the form of Symonds’ involvement with the Clifton Association for the Higher Education of Women. The Association held meetings at Clifton Hill House,2 and in October 1869, Symonds began a series of lectures on Greek literature at St Pauls Chuch Lecture Hall.3


      A Course of TWELVE LECTURES, introductory to the Study of GREEK LITERATURE, will be given by J.A. SYMONDS, M.A. (late Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, &c), in the ST PAUL’S LECTURE-HALL, UPPER PARK-STREET, CLIFTON. The First Lecture, SATURDAY, October 9th, at 11.30.

      For further particulars and Tickets, apply to Mr. SHEPHERD, Mall-Place, Clifton; or Mr. BINGHAM, the triangle; or by letter to Mrs. PERCIVAL, Clifton College.
Bristol Mercury, 25th September 1869


   A course of ten lectures on the RENAISSANCE IN ITALY will be given by J. A. SYMONDS, Esq, MA, in theST PAUL’S LECTURE-HALL, UPPER PARK-STREET,  on MONDAYS at Three PM, commencing on Monday, October 7. Tickets, price 21s, may be procured from Mr. THOBURN or Mr. BAKER, Mall place, Clifton; or Mrs, BINGHAM, the Triangle. […]
Bristol Mercury, 21st September 1872

Symonds’ lectures at St Pauls Hall were distinct from the series already begun at Clifton College, and aimed at an older (though more varied) audience: “I began on Saturday with about 80 ladies. They seem to me pleasant to deal with, more attentive and repaying than boys. Also I had a highly intelligent audience — ladies like the two Miss Winkworths being the high-water mark and a few schoolgirls the low. It is not easy to strike a balance between the two extremes.”4 Symonds’ notes for these lectures still exist at the Getty Research Institute.

  1. John Addington Symonds, Robert L. Peters (Editor), Herbert M. Schueller, The Letters of John Addington Symonds, Vol. 1 : 1844-1868, Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1968, p802 []
  2. Moira Martin “Guardians of the Poor: A Philanthropic Female Elite in Bristol” Regional Historian, Issue 9, Summer 2002 []
  3. Bristol Mercury – Saturday 18 September 1869 []
  4. Symonds, Letters, Vol 2, p.85 []