The Quadrangle

Finials

In architecture, a finial is an ornamental piece on top of a gable, spire or other roof projection, typically carved in stone.

There are a number of carved stone finials on Quadrangle roofs and those with carved animals above (i.e. on the East range, Clock Tower rear and MacLaurin Hall) all reflect the Royal coat of arms in some way.

On this webpage:


Information is largely from "Stained Glass and Stone" by Bertha McKenzie, "University of Sydney Architecure" by Trevor Howells, the Heritage and Conservation Register maintained by the University and the University of Sydney Grounds Conservation Plan 2002.

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


THE ROYAL COAT OF ARMS

The Royal coat of arms is pictured below:
— at the very top is a lion wearing the imperial crown (one of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom))
— under the lion is the imperial crown
— under the crown and in the centre is a shield in quarters. The first and fourth quarters each depict three passant lions of England (a "lion passant" is walking, with the right forepaw raised and all others on the ground); the second depicts the rampant lion (in profile standing erect with forepaws raised) and double tressure fleury-counter-fleury (fleur-de-lis) of Scotland; and the third depicts a harp for Ireland.
— on the viewer's left of the shield is an English lion wearing the imperial crown; on the right is a Scottish unicorn.

The royal coat of arms

The Royal arms in stained glass in the North and South Vestibule windows in the East range.


GREAT HALL FINIALS

The Great Hall roof has stone finials at each gable end. The finial on the front gable originally supported a two metre statue known as the Angel of Knowledge (erected in 1859) but this was removed in 1874 for safety reasons.

View images of the Angel of Knowledge and find out more about it from the Archives online exhibition on the Great Hall.

— The finial at the front of the Great Hall
The Great Hall - front finial

The finial on top of the front gable of the Great Hall, which once supported the Angel of Knoweldge.

The Angel of Knowledge

The carved Angel of Knowledge which was removed in 1874 for safety reasons, photo c. 1870, University of Sydney Archives.

— The finial at the rear of the Great Hall
The Great Hall - rear finial

The finial on top of the rear gable of the Great Hall,

The Great Hall - rear finial

Detail of the finial on top of the rear gable of the Great Hall.

CLOCK TOWER FINIAL

The central Clock Tower has one lion finial on the roof gable at its rear, holding an heraldic flag with an eight-pointed star in its centre which reflects the four eight-pointed stars on the University's coat of arms.

As part of a facelift for the Clock Tower between 1999 and 2002 (part of a major project under the University’s Heritage Fabric Maintenance and Conservation Program project), the Clock Tower’s original sandstone lion finial, created in the early 1860s, was replaced by a fresh lion carved “in the spirit of the original”, for the start of the 2001 academic year.

There was serious damage to the belly area as a result of the hole for the fixing rod being too close to the surface. The combination of the thin stone section and pressure from the rust broke the stone away and made practical repairs impossible.

The lion is now on view in the Quadrangle, next to the Information Centre.

Read about this conservation work.

The rear of the Clock Tower.

The rear of the Clock Tower, with the lion finial on the roof gable.

The new lion finial

The new lion finial which replaced the original in 2001.

The new finial from behind

The new Clock Tower finial from the rear, photo, copyright David White.

The original lion finial

The Clock Tower’s original lion finial.

The original lion finial

Close-up of the Clock Tower’s original sandstone lion finial, now on display in the Information Centre.

EAST RANGE FINIALS

The East range (front) of the Quadrangle has three finials on the three gable roofs - two lions and one horse.

— A lion finial on the southern end of the East range

On the southern roof gable of the East range facing the city is a lion finial holding an heraldic flag depicting a quatrefoil.

The lion finial at the end of the East range.

The lion finial facing the city at the southern end of the East range.

The lion finial at the end of the East range.

Detail of the lion finial facing the city at the southern end of the East range.

The lion finial at the end of the East range.

Detail of the lion finial facing the city at the southern end of the East range.

— Finials on either side of the Clock Tower

On the gable roofs on either side of the Clock Tower are a horse finial (the Great Hall side) and a lion finial (the other side of the Tower), each holding an heraldic flag. They reflect the Royal coat of arms on the front of the Clock Tower which has an English lion wearing the imperial crown on the left and a Scottish unicorn on the right of the the central shield.

Originally the lion and the horse finials each faced the Clock Tower. Today however, while the lion finial still does, the restored horse finial faces the city.

The Royal coat of arms

The Royal coat of arms on the front of the Clock Tower., with the lion on the left and the unicorn on the right.

The lion finial on the left of the Clock Tower, facing the Tower.

Detail of the lion finial on the left of the Clock Tower, facing the Tower.

Detail of the horse finial, now facing the city.

Detail of the horse finial on the right of the Clock Tower, now facing the city.

The horse finial

The horse finial with the Great Hall roof in the background.

An 1890 view from within the Quadrangle of the horse finial facing the Clock Tower.

An 1893 view from within the Quadrangle of the horse finial facing the Clock Tower.

An 1890 view from within the Quadrangle of the lion finial facing the Tower.

An 1893 view from within the Quadrangle of the lion finial facing the Tower.

— The three heraldic flags
Th heraldic flag at the southern end of the East range.

The heraldic flag with a quatrefoil held by the lion finial at the southern end of the East range.

The heraldic flag held by the lion finial facing the Clock Tower.

The heraldic flag with an 8-pointed star held by both the lion finial facing the Clock Tower and the finial at the rear of the Clock Tower.

The heraldic flag held by the horse finial facing the Clock Tower.

The heraldic flag with the royal symbol "R" held by the horse finial. The initials "VR" for "Victoria Regina" appear on the Quadrangle a number of times.

NICHOLSON GATEWAY FINIAL

The Nicholson Gateway has one lion finial - holding the shield from the Royal coat of arms - on top of the south gable.

Lion finial

Side view of the lion finial on top of the south gable of the Nicholson Gateway.

Lion finial

Front view of the lion finial on top of the south gable of the Nicholson Gateway.

MACLAURIN HALL FINIALS

There are two lion finials on MacLaurin Hall's gable roof (the former Fisher Library) - one at each end. Each finial wears a crown (reflecting the crowned lion on the Royal coat of arms), supports the crest from the Royal coat of arms and bears the date "1907" carved beneath.

MacLaurin Hall facade

Plans of the MacLaurin Hall facade showing the two lion finials on the west (left) and east (right) roof gables. They appear to be holding something similar to the heraldic flags held by the finials on the East range - but this was not translated into reality, image, courtesy Campus Infrastructure Services website.

— On the west gable
Cleaning the lion finial on the west gable.

Cleaning the lion finial on the west gable, photo, courtesy Campus Infrastructure Services website.

The cleaned lion finial.

The cleaned lion finial on the west gable.

The cleaned lion finial from behind.

The cleaned lion finial from behind.

— On the east (city-facing) gable
The finial on the east gable with the lion finial on the Nicholson Gateway in the foreground.

The lion finial on the east (city-facing) gable with the lion finial on the Nicholson Gateway in the foreground.

MacLaurin Hall lion finial

The lion finial on the east (city-facing) gable.




LB