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Current Students

 Dear Wills Hall resident,                                                                                                                               May 2020

It was my pleasure to welcome so many of you to Wills in September when we handed out our souvenir water bottles! I hope that despite your sadly reduced time in Wills Hall you have been able to form the friendships and forge the lived experiences that will last a lifetime, just as 90 generations of Wills residents have done. Now, as the year draws to a close I am writing for two purposes:

1.       to invite applications for the Wills Hall Travel Grants (up to £1000 per student) and,

2.       to invite you to keep alive your connections to that community, its elegant buildings and beautiful grounds by joining the Wills Hall Association, the alumni group for our Hall.

  1.      Travel Grants – click here to access the online form. Applications must be received by Sunday 21st June.

It may seem odd to be sending a mail about travel grants at a time when travel is virtually impossible. Nonetheless, thanks to the generosity of previous residents of Wills Hall, and current members of the Wills Hall Association, there are funds available annually to support educational travel, conservation projects involving travel, and personal educational development. It therefore seems right to advertise and make provisional awards this academic year, even if the travel itself cannot take place until much later. 

There are two different grants now open for applications.  Please indicate on the online application form which of them you wish to be considered for. Grants can be up to £1000 for overseas travel and up to £600 for travel within the UK. No application will receive more than 80% of the total costs outlined.

In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Trustees have decided that applications to the Academic Purposes fund will be accepted this year for online courses as well as for travel.

 2.      Join the Wills Hall Association

You are part of the 90th cohort of students to be part of the Wills Hall community and many of you were able to join the special celebration dinner in December, ninety years to the day when Winston Churchill officially opened the Hall. Our guests included important links to the history and traditions of our Hall with the then-President of the Supreme Court (and WHA Patron) Lady Hale giving a fantastic speech. The City of Bristol was represented by the Lord Mayor, and the presence of Sir David Wills, a descendant of the founding family, reinforced our links back to 1929.

The WHA maintains our links with the friends and community that we learned to value and which helped launch us into life at the University of Bristol - and the wider world.  For students the membership cost is currently £5 per yearAs a special offer, if you join the Association now, for an additional £10, you can purchase the recently updated edition of A History of Wills Hall. It is 112 pages hardback, with over 100 photographs, and fascinating information on the origins and growth of the Hall, the historical site, the buildings and hall traditions. Our website has more information about this book and, of course, a dedicated link for the purchase of “Old Wills”, our 90th anniversary special edition gin!                                                                                                                                                                                           

Supporting current students and our members

Most years we hold an annual formal dinner at Wills as part the University’s Alumni Weekend and an exclusive drinks reception in London. We recently hosted an online lecture from recent Wills graduate Kim Slim (Head of Grenfell Rehousing and Resettlement) and this summer we will are organising an e-peritif drinks event and special talk by Dr Clare Barlow. Dr Barlow is currently Exhibitions Curator at the Science Museums Group, formerly Assistant Curator at the National Portrait Gallery and, whilst at Tate Britain, curator of the 2017 major loans exhibition “Queer British Art 1861-1867”. She is one of Britain’s most prominent art historians, and a really engaging speaker.

We will shortly publish an annual Yearbook with articles and photographs contributed by current students and sourced from the archives. We support the Hall and students through our events, but also financially. You may not know, but it was the WHA that paid for the sound system in the dining hall; we also funded the Monica Wills chapel organ and have made dozens of high-value donations over the years for equipment and events . We meet with the JCR Committee on a regular basis and are able to offer funding for their special projects to enhance the Wills Hall student experience.

Wills Hall is special. This was well put by Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, Former UK Chief Medical Officer, Wills Hall 1967-1969:

‘For me, Wills was much more than a place to stay, much more than a temporary billet to be quickly forgotten, much more than an enclave of cliques and fragmented groups going their own way. It was a genuine and rock-solid community where friendships were forged and character was formed.’

Our Committee sends you every good wish at time of uncertainty and our strongest hopes for success during your time at the University of Bristol. I hope to see you, as a member very soon.


Yours sincerely and best wishes

Charles Gunter,

Chair, Wills Hall Association,

Wills Hall 2003-05, JCR President 2004-05, Senior Resident 2006-08