London Unveiled

great places to visit off the beaten path.

Wilton’s Music Hall ~ the world’s last surviving grand music hall.

Wilton’s is a unique building comprising a mid-19th Century grand music hall attached to an 18th Century terrace of three houses and a pub. The Mahogany Bar was built around 1725, we believe as a public house, trading under many names over the years including The Albion Saloon and The Prince of Denmark. In 1828 it was luxuriously and elaborately refurbished with a magnificent mahogany bar and fittings which was unprecedented for a pub interior at that time and earned the nick-name that is still used today.  In 1839 a concert room was built behind the pub and in 1843 it was licensed for a short time as The Albion Saloon, a saloon theatre, legally permitted to put on full-length plays. John Wilton bought the business in c.1850, enlarged the concert room three years later, and replaced it with his ‘Magnificent New Music Hall’ in 1859. He furnished the hall with mirrors, chandeliers and decorative paintwork, and installed the finest heating, lighting and ventilation systems of the day.Towards the end of the 19th Century the East End had become notorious for extreme poverty and terrible living conditions. Religious organisations tried to help. In 1888 Wilton’s was bought by the East London Methodist Mission, renamed The Mahogany Bar Mission and for some time considered ‘Methodism’s finest hall’. During the Great Dock Strike of 1889, a soup kitchen was set up at The Mahogany Bar feeding a thousand meals a day to the starving dockers’ families. The Mission remained open for nearly 70 years, through some of the most testing periods in East End history including the 1936 Mosley March and the London blitz. Wilton’s survived the slum clearance schemes of the 1960s and was grade 2* listed in 1971. It reopened as a theatre and concert hall in 1997.  The Mahogany Bar is also open as a bar, with the intent to start food service in the future.  Historical tours and entertainment events are listed on their web site: http://wiltons.org.uk/

Located at: Graces Alley, E1 8JB.  Nearest tube: Aldgate East (or Tower Hill)

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This entry was posted on May 23, 2012 by in Historic Buildings, Tower Hamlets and tagged .
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