The Quadrangle


In architecture a corbel is a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry any superincumbent weight.

As the Quadrangle was built, much use was made of elaborately carved stone corbels, both inside the Great Hall and parts of the former Fisher Library (now MacLaurin Hall and the Professorial Board Room) as well as outside in the Clock Tower and cloister.

Information is from "Stained Glass and Stone" by Bertha McKenzie.

Photos are courtesy of the University Secretariat unless otherwise indicated. Click on images for enlargement.


The stone corbels supporting the roof beams in the Great Hall bear the arms of some British universities.

Roof beams in the Great Hall
Corbel with the University arms

Above from left: Roof beams in the Great Hall, photo, copyright Ted Sealey; and the University of Sydney's coat of arms on a corbel.

Corbel - University of Melbourne arms

Above from left: Detail of the coat of arms on two of the stone corbels, the second bearing the arms of the University of Melbourne.

Corbel - shield from the arms of Durham University
Corbel - Cambridge University arms

Above from left: The shield from the arms of Durham University and the arms of Cambridge University.


Plain carved corbels support the wooden ceiling in the Clock Tower's main entrance.

Corbels in the Clock Tower


Stone corbels of various animals support the hammerbeam roof in MacLaurin Hall and are emblazoned with copper shields with the arms of nations whose universities were affiliated with the University in 1909.

MacLaurin Hall
Corbels in MacLaurin Hall

Above: Stone corbels supporting the hammerbeam roof.


Above from left: An animal and a boar support copper shields of Japan and Germany.


Above from left: A bald eagle supports the crest of the USA and a lion supports India's crest.


Above from left: A chicken and a lion support the crests of France and Italy.

New Zealand

Above from left: A lion supports the crest of New Zealand and a walrus supports Norway's crest.

A bull

Above from left: A reindeer supports Sweden's crest.

A bull
A tiger
A cow
A lion


The corbels supporting the eight main roof timbers in the Professorial Board Room are portrait heads of famous poets, scientists and mathematicians, each carrying an emblem representative of their field of study and expressing the theme of the continuation of the Greek cultural tradition through the arts and sciences of Britain.

  • Archimedes - Greek mathematician and engineer. Emblems - a sphere in its cylinder and a torch.
  • Charles Darwin (1809-1882) - naturalist. Emblems - a moth and moth larvae.
  • Herodotus (c484 - c425 BC) - Greek historian. Emblem - a scroll.
  • Homer - Greek epic poet. The emblems are from the Iliad - Nestor's cup and three Mycenean daggers.
  • Lord Lister (1827-1912) - surgeon. Emblem - a surgeon's scalpel.
  • Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) - mathematician, physicist, astronomer. Emblems - an apple and stars of the solar system.
  • William Shakespeare (1564-1616) - dramatist and poet. Emblems - parchment and a book.
  • James Watt (1736-1819) - inventor of the modern condensing steam engine. Emblems - a cylinder and piston.

The builders were emphasising, as in the Great Hall, that the European traditions of scholarship and learning were being continued in the southern hemisphere.

Professorial Board Room
Joseph Lister

Above from left: The corbels supporting main roof timbers in the Professorial Board Room, and the portrait head of Joseph Lister.

James Watt

Above clockwise: The portrait heads of James Watt, Homer and William Shakespeare.

Sir Isaac Newton
Charles Darwin

Above from left: The protrait heads of Sir Isaac Newton, Herodotus, Archimedes and Charles Darwin.


Roof beams in the cloisters are supported by stone corbels which include strange animals (most with wings), birds and floral motifs.

A monster

Above from left: Roof beams in the cloisters supported by corbels, and a monster corbel.

A monster
Side view of the monster corbel
A stone corbel of an animal
An animal
A corbel
An animal
A winged creature
A winged tortoise
A winged creature
A stone corbel of a bird
An animal
An animal
An animal
A winged and web-footed animal
An owl
A bird
A bird
A bird
A corbel
A bird
A winged animal
A corbel
A corbel
A corbel
A lion
A stone crown
A floral motif
A floral motif
A floral motif
A floral motif