Grecian Saloon

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Venue Type & Location

Tavern

Site Name: Grecian Saloon
Location: London
County: London (city-county)
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location

Overview

  • Address: Corner of City Road & Shepherdess Walk, Hackney. For a current map, Click Here. For historical maps showing the venue (in addition to the one excerpted at right), Click Here and Here.



  • Alternate Names: Grecian Theatre, Grecian Saloon at Eagle’s Tavern, Royal Grecian Theatre, Eagle Tavern Music Hall, Coronation Pleasure Ground.



  • Capacity: Diana Howard claims that, c. 1850, The Grecian could hold just under 1800 people (300 in Stalls, 420 in the Pit, 340 in the Boxes Circle, 660 in the Gallery and 72 in Boxes) (101). Erroll Sherson, on the other hand, suggests that the theatre sat only about 700 (19). Evidence to corroborate either of these figures has not yet been found.



  • Audience Composition: Many accounts suggest that audiences at the Grecian were quite large and mixed. An 1843 police report characterizes the theatre’s frequenters as “respectable tradesmen, clerks from the city, mechanics, and neighbours” (quoted in Davis & Emeljanow 48). At the same time, however, Davis and Emeljanow provide evidence to suggest that the theatre attracted the area's wealthy inhabitants (48), and the middle-class citizens of Hackney, Dalston & Stoke Newington as well (48). Many contemporary reports also claim that the audiences at the Grecian were densely packed with young thieves and teenaged prostitutes. James Ritchie, for instance, bemoans the theatre’s depraved female habitués, calling them “the refuse of the other sex” (220) and describing them as “unfortunates from the City road with painted faces, brazen looks and gorgeous silks” (219). Davis and Emeljanow, however, suggest that such reports (along with others emphasizing the drunkenness, violence and uncouth nature of local audiences) are greatly exaggerated and misleading.



  • Performance Space Description: In 1844, John Fisher Murray exuberantly called the Grecian “the grandest place [he] ever was in [his] life” (‘The Physiology of London Life', reproduced at the Dictionary of Victorian London Online). He praised everything from the “mighty columns” adorning the building’s exterior to the “plate-glass folding doors, [and] Spanish mahogany bar-fittings” inside (ibid), and ultimately compared the venue favourably to Devonshire House and Chatsworth. As for the theatre itself, it was described in London as it is To-day (1851) as “elegantly decorated, comfortably fitted up, and well adapted both for seeing and hearing” (222). The space was also, evidently, well adapted for eating and drinking, as audience seats were fronted by small tables on which spectators could place refreshments (Sherson 19). The stage itself (c.1850) measured 71’ wide by 30’ deep (Howard 101).



  • Typical Fare: In 1851, the author of London as it is To-day suggested that “[t]he principal entertainments [at the Grecian] consist of opera, farce, and ballet” (222). Melodramas, pantomimes, and burlettas could also frequently be found on bills. When Benjamin Conquest took over the theatre in 1851, he added Shakespeare to the theatre’s offerings, but quickly abandoned this new strategy when the productions proved unpopular. Throughout the period covered by this database, the Grecian was also attached to pleasure gardens, wherein typical Vauxhall-like entertainments could be enjoyed.



  • Performance History

  • The version of the theatre that was operative between 1842-1852 was built and opened by Thomas Rouse c. 1832.



  • Benjamin Conquest took over as manager in 1851 and soon thereafter (1858) had the theatre rebuilt.



  • The theatre was rebuilt again in 1876-7, before finally being sold to the Salvation Army in 1882.



    Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.



    The Howard and Senelick et al texts (cited at right) also contain listings of relevant contemporary and historical sources pertaining to this venue.



    Beth Marquis

  • Events at Grecian Saloon

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Dramatic 12 June 1843 - 17 June 1843 London, London (city-county) Frazer
    Variety 9 March 1846 - 14 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Cave, J.H.
    Variety 16 March 1846 - 21 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Cave, J.H.
    Variety 23 March 1846 - 28 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Cave, J.H.
    Variety 30 March 1846 - 1 April 1846 London, London (city-county) Cave, J.H.
    Variety 2 November 1846 - 7 November 1846 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Variety 16 November 1846 - 21 November 1846 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Variety 23 November 1846 - 28 November 1846 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Variety 30 November 1846 - 5 December 1846 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Variety 1 December 1846 - 1 December 1846 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 15 March 1847 - 20 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 22 March 1847 - 27 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Variety 29 March 1847 - 2 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Pickaninny
    Dramatic 13 April 1847 - 17 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 19 April 1847 - 24 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 3 May 1847 - 3 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 11 May 1847 - 11 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 13 May 1847 - 14 May 1847 London, London (city-county) More Ethiopians Troupe (Grecian Saloon, 47)
    Variety 24 May 1847 - 29 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Dramatic 24 May 1847 - 29 May 1847 London, London (city-county) More Ethiopians Troupe (Grecian Saloon, 47), Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Dramatic 31 May 1847 - 5 June 1847 London, London (city-county) More Ethiopians Troupe (Grecian Saloon, 47)
    Variety 7 June 1847 - 12 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 14 June 1847 - 14 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 17 June 1847 - 18 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 24 June 1847 - 24 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 25 June 1847 - 25 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 28 June 1847 - 28 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 30 June 1847 - 3 July 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 15 July 1847 - 16 July 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Variety 2 August 1847 - 2 August 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47), Flying Indians
    Variety 16 August 1847 - 21 August 1847 London, London (city-county) Grecian Saloon Minstrels (47)
    Dramatic 8 September 1847 - 11 September 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 4 October 1847 - 6 October 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 11 October 1847 - 12 October 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Dramatic 15 November 1847 - 15 November 1847 London, London (city-county) Boatman Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 46-7) 2
    Variety 17 March 1851 - 17 March 1851 London, London (city-county) Boatmen Ballet Troupe (London-Grecian, 51)

    Bibliographic Sources

    • Arthur Lloyd Website. 05/22/2008 (http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/)

      (Under Music Hall - About Music Hall)

    • Bishopsgate Institute Website. 05/22/2008 (http://www.bishopsgate.org.uk/index.asp)

      (Under Bishopsgate Library - Collections - Archives Collections - London Collection Manuscripts - Eagle Tavern)

    • Davis, Jim & Victor Emeljanow. Reflecting the Audience. London Theatregoing, 1840-1880. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001.
    • Dictionary of Victorian London Online. 07/27/2008 (http://www.victorianlondon.org/)

      (Under Entertainment - Gardens & Spas - The Eagle)

    • Howard, Diana. London Theatres and Music Halls 1850-1950. London: The Library Association, 1970.
    • London as it is To-day. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.

      p222.

    • London Theatres Website (Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury). 05/22/2008 (http://library.kent.ac.uk/library/special/html/specoll/theindex.htm)

      (Under 'G')

    • Observer (London) May 24, 1847: 5.
      Info in Record:
      • proprietor/lessee
    • Ritchie, J. Ewing. The Night SIde of London (1858). Reproduced on The Dictionary of Victorian London Website. 03/28/2008 (http://www.victorianlondon.org/publications3/nightside.htm)
    • Senelick, Laurence et al. British Music-Hall 1840-1923. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1981.

      pp76-77.

    • Sherson, Erroll. London’s Lost Theatres of the Nineteenth Century. New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1925.

      pp9-36.

    • Theatres in Victorian London Website. 05/22/2008 (http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/theaters/pva234.html)
    • Thornbury, Walter. Old and New London. London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., 1881.
    • Timbs, John. Curiosities of London (1868). London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1868.

      p.609, 784.

    • Timbs, John. Curiosities of London (1855). London: David Bogue, 1855.

      p717.