Gargoyles - winged beasts and frightening monsters - are one of the most notable features of Gothic architecture and of the University of Sydney Quadrangle, and many images appear below.
You can find images of the Quadrangle's other carved grotesque creatures elsewhere in this online exhibition, including the following galleries: carved stone bosses / carved stone grotesques / carved stone corbels in the cloisters.
- About gargoyles and grotesques
- More MacLaurin Hall gargoyles
- Great Hall gargoyles
- Clock Tower gargoyles
- Clock Tower gargoyles photographed from the Clock Tower
- More East range gargoyles
- Nicholson Gateway gargoyles
- Cloister gargoyles
- Gargoyles in preparation
- Gargoyle conservation
The photos on this webpage are courtesy of the University Secretariat unless otherwise indicated (when cursor is over the photo). Click on images for enlargement.
Above: Gargoyles on MacLaurin Hall.
A "gargoyle" is an unusual, fantastic, mythical or eerie carved creature that serves as a waterspout or drain, and is used to drain water from a building. A trough is cut in the back of the gargoyle and rainwater typically exits through the open mouth. It is usually an elongated and long-necked animal because the length of the gargoyle determines how far water is thrown from the wall. Superstition held that gargoyles frightened away evil spirits while serving their practical function.
Similar carved creatures that do not act as waterspouts or drains and are for decorative purposes only are called "grotesques".
However, in modern terminology the term "gargoyle" has come to be used for both functional and non-functional forms of this form of sculpture.
The gargoyles in the Quadrangle are mostly found high up on walls, towers and turrets from the Great Hall round to the Western Tower via the cloister. While some of the University's gargoyles fulfil the drainpipe function, most are purely decorative.
Above: Professor Smith on the left and a stonemason carving a frog gargoyle on the right, photo by Professor Smith, University Archives.
In October 2007, the University began conservation work on the façade of MacLaurin Hall, in accordance with the recommendations of the 1999 Heritage Fabric Survey and inspections during 2003 and 2006. This included work on the gargoyles, a number of which were showing signs of splitting and falling. They were treated with a poultice to remove salt; the poultice was left on for 10 days or until it fell off, and then re-applied to ensure the salt was removed.
Above: Gargoyle with poultice treatment, photos, courtesy Campus Infrastructure Services.
Above: Two gargoyles after poultice desalination, photos, courtesy Campus Infrastructure Services.