The Great Hall University of Sydney, Australia, is one of the principal structures of the university, with a public interior used for formal ceremonies, conferences, recitals and dinners. The Hall, located in the Main Quadrangle on the Camperdown campus, is a symbol of the university’s stately history and an excellent example of Victorian Gothic revival architecture.
Designed by Sir Edmund Thomas Blacket (1817–1883), the Great Hall lies at the most northeastern point of the university Quadrangle – dominating the sweeping lawns of University Place, as well as University Avenue, which overlooks Victoria Park. Blacket, who was appointed Colonial Architect of New South Wales from 1849–1854, resigned from his position in 1855 to pursue the design of new buildings for the University – supervising both their development, and construction, until their completion in 1862. Blacket’s other notable achievements include the design of St. Paul’s Collegeand the alteration of the original construction of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, from architect James Hume’s original design.
The Great Hall was completed in 1859, and represents one of Blacket’s finest accomplishments. On July 18, 1859, degrees were first conferred upon graduates by the University in a formal ceremony in the Hall. During 1881–1882, a Forster & Andrews pipe organ was installed, later to be replaced in 1971-72 by the present organ which was manufactured by German builder Rudolf von Beckerath of Hamburg.The Great Hall is recognised as one of the finest examples of the Victorian Gothic revival style of architecture in Australia, in a design that reflects, and harmoniously complements the University Quadrangle of which it forms part.
Like its English counterpart, a wooden, hammerbeam roof is adorned by ten carved angels. The arched design of the roof is supported by six collar beams, and is architecturally reminiscent of such British interiors as those of Stirling Castle, Hampton Court and Etham Castle, all equally typical of Gothic constructions.