Capacity: According to Michael Barron, the intended capacity of the Rooms was approximately 800. At the same time, he notes, “[s]omehow on exceptional occasions they fitted 1500 people into the hall!” (67)
Audience Composition: The Rooms seem to have catered largely to an elite, patrician audience. Henry C. Lunn, for instance, claims that “the Rooms were especially adapted for the nobility and those moneyed aristocrats who, either from taste or fashion, were content to devote a portion of their time and capital to the support of struggling music” (741). Likewise, several accounts suggest that mainly royal and aristocratic patrons supported the Queen’s Concerts, a major feature of the entertainments at Hanover Square between 1804 and 1848.
Performance Space Description: In 1844, Mogg’s New Picture of London described the Hanover Square Rooms as “a splendid suite of apartments” (reproduced in The Dictionary of Victorian London Online). Lunn corroborates this position, describing the venue’s “general air of elegance”, and listing amongst its features “long mirrors, reflecting the costumes of the audience”, a “royal box” and a “spacious retiring room” (741). Conversely, Edward Walford writes that “[t]he large room, in its original state, was dull and heavy, owing to the architecture style of the date at which it was built; at one end was the ponderous royal box, and almost the only tasteful decoration consisted of some paintings by the hand of Cipriani” (reproduced at British History Online).
Barron notes that the performance space itself was a rectangular room (of a total volume of 1875 m cubed) with flat floors and no balconies. Its audience area was 200 m squared, and the ceiling was approximately 8.5m in height. Furthemore, Barron continues, “[c]ontemporary pictures show a well-raked stage suitable for good sight and sound lines. The vaulted ceiling of the Hanover Square Rooms had a centre of curvature about 1 m above the floor. This would produce strong reflections and a non-uniform response, but an acoustic character liked by some” (67).
Typical Fare: By and large, the Hanover Square Rooms were known for concerts, both vocal and instrumental. As mentioned above, the ‘Queen’s Concerts of Ancient Music’ took place at the rooms between 1804 and 1848. Musical entertainments by the Philharmonic Society were also held at the venue beginning in 1833, as was the Royal Society of Musicians’ annual performance of Handel’s Messiah (from 1785-1848). At the same time, the writer for Mogg’s New Picture of London notes that the rooms were also “occasionally engaged for balls, and [for] morning and evening concerts” (reproduced in Dictionary of Victorian London Online). Similarly, Walford writes: “the entertainments provided in these rooms were not strictly confined to balls and concerts, for lectures, ‘readings’ and public meetings innumerable have been held here” (reproduced at British History Online). Descriptions of playbills for concerts and entertainments at the facility can be found in the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s Concert Programmes Database, Here.
In 1774, Sir John Callini, Johann Christian Bach & Charles F. Abel purchased the site which would soon hold the Hanover Square Rooms and converted part of the existing structure into an assembly room. This building soon developed into one of London’s major concert halls.
The venue flourished throughout the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. In 1861, thorough renovations and refurbishments increased its splendour.
The last performance at the venue (a concert by the Royal Academy of Music) took place on December 19, 1874. The building was then transformed into the Hanover Club.
In 1900, the building was demolished in its entirety. Office buildings now stand on its site.
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.