Graphics, Image for The New Music Hall at the Surrey Gardens.
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Graphics, Image for The New Music Hall at the Surrey Gardens.
THE   ADELPHI   THEATRE   CALENDAR
A Record of Dramatic Performances at a Leading Victorian Theatre

Formerly the Sans Pareil (1806-1819), later the Adelphi (1819-1900)
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Title:The New Music Hall at the Surrey Gardens.
Description:The New Music Hall at the Surrey Gardens.
Theatre:Surrey
Source:The Illustrated London News, Jul 26, 1856, p. 91
See Source:Go to Source Images (8.8 MB)
Review:The Illustrated London News, Jul 26, 1856, p. 92

THE NEW MUSIC HALL, ROYAL SURREY GARDENS.

"Man favours wonders" and, if anyone doubt this wisdom of our ancestors, let him hie forth to the site of the Surrey Zoological Gardens, where Company, by a touch of the wand of Capital, has proved a most potent architect and decorator, and Limited Liability has chalked out enjoyment almost without bound.  Just a quarter of a century ago, Cross, the zoological showman--by turns turned out of Exeter Change and the King's Mews, and the murky atmosphere of the Strand and Charing-cross (the latter charged with the heinous offence of spoiling pictures)--"lions and tigers" Cross, tired with flaunting it at every place mentioned in Owen's Book of Fairs," shuffled off his Beefeater's faded finery, and pitched his menagerie upon the demesne of the Manor House at Walworth.  Here he built a curvilinear iron and glass house 100 feet in diameter, for his lions, tigers, leopards, jackals, and hyenas, which, for aught we know, may here, embowered in trailing shrubs, have fancied themselves back in their native forests.  How many thousands, within this quarter of a century gazed at the animated exotics in the great iron and glass house; at acres of canvas painted to represent numberless cities upon the lake, out vying the "real water" of Sadler's Wells--it were useless to speculate.  That the circular carnivora conservatory is gone is quite clear; and upon its site has been reared a fairy temple, dedicated to sweeter sounds than the notes of captive lion, tiger, or jackal.  Such is the New Music Hall.

We have already described the exterior of this vast Hall, which, by the way, is twenty feet longer and thirty feet wider than Exeter-hall, hitherto the largest in Great Britain.  Its ornamental octagonal towers have an Eastern air; and the roof, in the words of the Builder, "realises somewhat the expression of the feature in Palladio's Basilica at Vicenza."  The style is degenerate Italian, relieved by French taste; and seeing that Mr. Horace Jones, the architect, and Messrs. Scott and Cornwall, the contractors, have executed the whole in four months, it is a marvellous structure.  The roof is a modification of the well-known arrangement at the Exhibition building in Hyde-park, the Great Northern Railway station and other important works and has been employed successfully in many instances by the architect of the Surrey Music Hall.

The interior of the Hall, though not yet fully decorated, produces an effect of grandeur and magnificence.  The front of the lower gallery is ornamented with open ironwork, of the lyre and other musical instruments, gold and white.  The second gallery is of a plainer description, but over the uppermost one is a handsome cornice with trusses in pairs supporting its corona, between which, in the frieze, are festoons of fruit and flowers, grouped and modelled with great taste.  The upper ceiling is curved and lighted by three octagonal apertures, in which are fixed "watch-glass lights," twelve feet in diameter.  The refreshment-room, which is in immediate communication with the lower floor of the Music Hall, is nearly one hundred feet in length and forty feet wide.

The orchestra, which will accommodate 1000 performers, has an upper story, the front of which is hung by iron rods from a strong truss above.  Communicating with the orchestra are refreshment and retiring rooms.  Over all is a great sounding board--the cornice decoration of festoons and trusses ranging across it.

The lighting by night is by a line of gas jets round the main cornice, and by gaseliers under the galleries.  All the gaseliers, brackets, and footlights have been executed in crystal glass by Defries and Sons of Houndsditch.  Exclusive of the orchestra, the building will accommodate about 10,000 persons; and 12,000 can be accommodated in all parts, and inclusive of the external galleries.  The Hall has cost about £18,200.

The grounds, which, in taste, were beyond a cockney garden have been greatly improved, under the direction of Mr. Forrest, the eminent landscape gardener.  The lake--which has in past seasons "done duty" as the Bay of Naples, the North Atlantic, the Frith of Forth, the Tiber, &c.--now serves as the Golden Horn for a large View of Constantinople; beyond it is mountain scenery--all painted by Danson and cleverly harmonised with the natural features of the place.  By the side of the picture, to keep up the Turkish illusion, is a kiosk, with a terrace for use as well as for ornament; for here alone will smokers be allowed to indulge in their favourite vice and will thus be precluded from offending those frequenters of the gardens who do not find fragrance in tobacco.  There are some pretty stalactite caverns and rock and rustic work; and the gardens are illuminated by lights among the shrubs, in oiled and painted canvas shades.  Lastly, we have the fireworks on the lake with vast improvements upon the spectacles of this class.



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Copyright © 1988, 1992, 2013 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.
Originally published by Greenwood Press as The Sans Pareil Theatre 1806-1819, Adelphi Theatre 1819-1850: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers, 1988, and The Adelphi Theatre 1850-1900: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers and Management, 1992.
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The Adelphi Theatre Calendar revised, reconstructed and amplified.  Copyright © 2013, by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License, with the exception of graphics from The Clip Art Book, edited by Gerard Quinn and published by Crescent in 1990.  These images are reproduced in accord with the publisher’s note, which states "The Clip Art Book is a new compilation of illustrations that are in the public domain.  The individual illustrations are copyright free and may be reproduced without permission or payment.  However, the selection of illustrations and their layout is the copyright of the publisher, so that one page or more may not be photocopied or reproduced without first contacting the publishers."