The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences, Kensington Gore



Opening of Royal Albert Hall. Illustration in Public Domain from The Illustrated London News, April 8, 1871.

Royal Albert Hall was constructed along with the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens.  Her Majesty the Queen Victoria announced the planned opening for March 29, 1871 (The Pall Mall Gazette, January 26, 1871, p. 14).


Indeed, the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences, constructed in the popular Italianate style of architecture, was formally opened March 29

…with a stately ceremonial by the QUEEN, assisted by the Prince of WALES.  After an address to her MAJESTY stating the objects for which the building was intended, read by the Prince of WALES, the QUEEN said that she was glad to be present at the opening of the institution and expressed her earnest wishes for its success and usefulness.  The Bishop of LONDON then offered prayer, and the Prince in her MAJESTY’S name declared the hall “to be open.”  The band struck up the National Anthem, and a park of artillery outside fired a Royal salvo.  A grand musical performance, conducted by Sir MICHAEL COSTA, concluded the proceedings of the day.  (The Standard, March 30, 1871, p. 4)


Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall in South Kensington, London and seats 5,272 persons, although originally designed to hold 6-7,000 in the hall and additional 2,000 in the picture gallery circling the hall (The Morning Post, Mar 30, 1871, p. 6).  The hall hosts many notable events, including the BBC Proms concerts, held every summer since 1941.  Prom is shorthand for Promenade concert, the term originating in London in 1838 in reference to the open air concerts where patrons could stroll (“promenade”) during the concert.


The hall was designed by Francis Fowke and Henry Y. D. Scott and built by the Lucas Brothers.  Constructed of Fareham Red brick with a mosaic frieze, it includes historical and religious quotations above the Triumph of the Arts and Sciences represented by the mosaic.

The base is of plain red brick, with single-headed windows, the keystone of which is formed of the crown and cushion and the letter “V.,” above which the principal floor is divided by terra-cotta pilasters, between which are semicircular-headed windows. (The Morning Post, Mar 30, 1871, p. 6).

Gibbs and Canning supplied the terra-cotta blocks, Minton, Hollings, and Co. made the frieze, using the female students of the School of Art at Kensington.  The mosaics were designed by Horsley, Armitage, yeames, Marks, Poynter, Pickersgill, and Armstead.  Queen Victoria laid the cornerstain May 20th, 1867.  The news item included extensive detail of the interior boxes, tiers, private rooms, galleries, and furnishings.

And yet again, I am belatedly learning some 13 years later the story of this building and the history of the event playing there during our short visit.

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5 Responses to The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences, Kensington Gore

  1. Val says:

    I went there many times when I lived in London (where I’m originally from), it’s a fabulous building.


    • Suzassippi says:

      If we had planned in advance, and known more, we would have benefitted greatly! Indeed, I was fortunate to even get to go for the short 3 days where I spent almost as much time on the airplane. 🙂 It would have been wonderful to have done more, but our hop on/hop off at least gave us a glimpse.


  2. Sheryl says:

    It’s interesting to see the range in seat prices across the tiers and galleries in the old newspaper article.


    • Suzassippi says:

      Indeed it is. I looked it up, and 15 pounds in 1871 is equivalent to 1,778.51 in 2020. Even the “cheap seats” in the gallery that circled the floor were 118.57 in 2020 conversion!


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