The Quadrangle

The cloisters

The cloisters, which extend around half of the Quadrangle, were built between 1901 and 1925, and completed in the 1960s.


The cloisters - enlargement, photo, copyright David White

About cloisters

A cloister (from Latin claustrum, "enclosure") is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth, Wikipedia.

Building the Cloisters - Stage 1, 1901 - 1909

The first part of the cloisters was built between 1901 and 1909, as part of the construction of Fisher Library (now MacLaurin Hall) and bookstacks.


Fisher Library and bookstack
cloisters today - enlargement,
photo, copyright David White.

Building the Cloisters - Stage 2, 1913 -1918

The next stage was extending the cloisters to continue around the southern side to the Clock Tower, as part of linking the East range and Fisher Library, between 1913 and 1918. The cloisters now ran from the Clock Tower, round the South range to the north end of the book stack.

Building the Cloisters - Stage 3, 1963 - 1966

While the Western Tower had been partially completed in the 1920s (the west face) with an extension from the bookstacks to the Tower, the cloisters had not similarly been extended to reach the Tower. It was not until 1963 that work began to complete the Western Tower (the east face) and extend the cloisters to it. The construction of five bays of cloisters was completed in 1966.

The full cloister

The full cloister today, photo, University of Sydney

Decorative features

Some of the decorative features of the cloisters are:

  • bosses - stone carvings of lion grotesques along the horizontal string course of the cloister - view images.
  • bosses - stone carvings of monsters and mythical figures around two cloister arches - view images.
  • stone corbels which support the roof beams in the cloisters - they include animals (most with wings) and birds - view images.
  • gargoyles - unusual, fantastic, mythical or eerie carved creatures jutting out from the cloister - see one below.
A boss A corbel A cloister gargoyle

A boss on the cloisters -

 A corbel in the cloisters -


A gargoyle on the cloisters -


Click on images for enlargement.


Above, clockwise from top left: The first two images are courtesy, University of Sydney, and the remaining photos are copyright, David White.