Site Name: Exeter Hall
County: London (city-county)
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location
Address: 372 Strand (north side). For a current map, Click Here. For historical maps showing the venue (in addition to the one excerpted at right), Click Here and Here.
Performance Space Description: Information about this venue has not yet been compiled; however, some sense of the performance space may be gleaned by following the links at right. In particular:
See the 'Bibliographic Sources' link for a provisional list of venue-relevant resources (both primary and secondary). Wherever possible (i.e. when the pertinent text is relatively short and/or easily condensed) this material has been transcribed, and appears beneath the appropriate bibliographic citation.
See the 'Events at venue' link for a listing of blackface/minstrelsy-related events that took place in this performance space (with attached bibliographic references).
Black’s New Guide to London and its Environs. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1863.
“EXETER HALL, Strand, erected 1831, from the designs of Gandy Deering, is a proprietary establishment. In the Great Hall, 131 ½ feet long, 76 feet wide, and 45 feet high, oratorios by Handel, Haydn, and other great composers, take place, performed by the Sacred Harmonic Society, to whom the organ and orchestra at the east end belong. The hall will accommodate about 3000 persons. There are also two other halls here, one accommodating about 600 persons, the other 250; twenty-one other rooms, used as offices and committee-rooms, and also an extensive range of vaults. The whole cost about £36,000. During the months of April and May, annually take place the meetings of religious and benevolent societies, one of the leading features of the London season” (215-16).
Cunningham, P. Modern London; or, London as it is. London: John Murray, 1851.
”EXETER HALL, in the STRAND. A large proprietary building on the N. side of the Strand, built (1831) from the designs of J.P. Deering, but altered in the ceiling and lengthened about 40 feet, in 1850, by Mr. S.W. Dawkes. The Hall is 131 feet long, 76 feet wide, (i.e. 8 feet wider than Westminster Hall) and 45 feet high; and will contain, in comfort, more than 3000 persons. It is let for the annual ‘May Meetings’ of the several religious societies, and for the concerts of the Sacred Harmonic Society, in which the unrivalled music of Handel is at times performed, with a chorus of 700 voices accompanying it” (180).
Dictionary of Victorian London Online. 07/27/2008 (http://www.victorianlondon.org/)
(Under Entertainment - Music and Musicians - list of public halls)
Knight, Charles (ed). London Vol. 5 & 6. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1851.
London as it is To-day. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.
“EXETER HALL, Strand. A spacious edifice erected in 1831, from designs by Mr. J.P. Gandy Deering, at a cost of £30,000, on the site of Exeter Change, and devoted almost exclusively to the uses of religious and benevolent societie,s especially for their anniversary meetings. The frontage to the Strand is very narrow, the exterior simply consisting of a lofty portico, formed of two handsome Corinthian pillars, with a flight of steps from the street to the hall door.
The great hall, on the upper floor of the building, is ninety feet broad, one hundred and thirty-eight feet in length, forty-eight feet in height, having an arched roof for the conveyance of sound, and is lighted by seventeen large windows. It will accommodate three thousand persons with comfort, and four thousand may be crowded within its walls. The platform is at the east end, and will accommodate seven hundred persons; it is fenced from the audience portion of the hall by a light railing. The platform has been modelled with a view to the accommodation and display of the orchestra and chorus of the Sacred Harmonic Society, and the London Sacred Harmonic Society, whose concerts take place here, when the sublime compositions of Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and other eminent composers, are given, by a body of seven hundred vocal and instrumental performers, in a style of unapproachable excellence. In the centre of the orchestra is placed one of the finest organs in the world, built by Walker.
Beneath the great hall is a smaller one, in which are held meetings of a more limited character than those for which the upper hall is suitable; there are likewise numerous rooms appropriated to the use of societies and committees. Sometimes there are meetings in both halls at the same time; and a speaker in the lower room, will occasionally be annoyed by the reverberation of the thunders of applause, brought down by the eloquence of a M’cNeile, or a Montgomery, shaking the large room above him.
Only societies of a religious, or moral nature are allowed the use of Exeter Hall. […] Dignitaries of the church, members of the aristocracy and the senate, dissenting ministers, distinguished foreigners, philanthropists, eloquent speakers, plain members of the society of Friends, converted heathens and persons in humble walks of life, whose heart-stirring appeals in the cause of suffering humanity-in classic English, or broad Scotch, mingled with the Irish accent, and provincial dialects-are here received with enthusiastic shouts of approving applause […]” (316-318).
Timbs, John. Curiosities of London (1868). London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1868.
“EXETER HALL, No. 372, on the north side of the Strand, a large proprietary establishment, was commenced in 1829 (Gandy Deering, architect), and was originally intended for religious and charitable Societies, and their meetings. It has a narrow frontage in the Strand, but the premises extend in the rear nearly from Burleigh-street to Exeter-street. The Strand entrance is Græco Corinthian, and has two columns and pilasters, and the word […] (Loving Brothers) sculptured in the attic. A double staircase leads to the Great Hall, beneath which are a smaller one, and passages leading to the offices of several Societies.
The Great Hall, opened in 1831, is now used for the ‘May Meetings’ of religious societies, and for the Sacred Harmonic Society's and other concerts. This Hall has been twice enlarged, is now 131 ft. 6 in. long, 76 ft. 9 in. wide, and 45 ft. high, and will accommodate upwards of 3000 persons. At the east end is an organ and orchestra, the property of the Sacred Harmonic Society; at the west end is a large gallery, extending partly along the sides; and on the floor are seats rising in part amphitheatrically; also a platform for the speakers, and a large carved chair. In 1850, the area of the hall was lengthened nearly forty feet; the flat-panelled ceiling was also removed, and a coved one inserted, without disturbing the slating in the roof; S.W. Daukes, architect. […]
Thus the ceiling gained 15 feet in height at the ends, and 12 feet in the centre; and the sound and ventilation are much improved. The Orchestra is on the acoustic principle successfully adopted by Mr. Costa at the Philharmonic Society; it is 7G feet wide, 11 feet more than the Birmingham Town-Hall orchestra. Every member can see the conductor; […] The works of Handel, Haydn, and Mozart are here given with mighty effect; and Spohr and Mendelssohn have here conducted their own productions. […]
The smaller hall holds about 1000 persons, and a third hall 250. […]” (334)