31 March 2020

Spotlight on the Royal Albert Hall

Amongst the many jewels in Kensington’s crown, the Royal Albert Hall is one of the finest. Originally built to promote an understanding and appreciation of the arts and sciences, it was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and since then has hosted some of the world’s most prestigious and spectacular events.

The brainchild of Prince Albert, the Hall was originally going to be named the Central Hall. However, upon laying the foundation stone in 1867, Queen Victoria decided to name it in memory of her husband, who had died of typhoid fever six years earlier. Those that visit the Royal Albert Hall today can see the foundation stone in Stalls K, Row 11, Seat 87, still visible underneath the seat.

After Albert’s death, his great friend Sir Henry Cole had taken the reins on the project and is widely credited as being the driving force behind the construction of the building. It was Cole’s visits to the ruins of Ancient Roman amphitheatres that inspired the design of the hall, originally intended to accommodate 30,000 people before being reduced to around 5,272 today for a variety of logistical reasons.

One of the most distinctive features of the venue is the vast main auditorium. 185 feet wide by 219 feet long, it is covered by a colossal glass and wrought-iron dome, 135 feet high. Before the dome was placed on top of the hall, it was assembled and dismantled in Manchester, to ensure it fitted together properly, before being taken to London. An unwitting result of this expansive design was the creation of a noticeable and unwelcome echo within the hall. This was only resolved in the 1960s with the addition of a number of ‘acoustic saucers’, often referred to as the Royal Albert Hall mushrooms. An iconic work of architecture, the famous exterior of the building was constructed from over six million red bricks and 80,000 blocks of terracotta. The distinctive round shape may also have spared it from the bombing during World War II, as the Luftwaffe reportedly used it as a landmark.

Throughout the venue’s illustrious history, many of the world’s leading artists have taken to its stage. It has hosted over 30,000 events, including everything from ballets, to rock concerts, to awards ceremonies.

Today, it continues to host some of the most notable events in the British calendar. It is best known, however, for its classical music concerts and has become synonymous with The Proms – an annual eight-week summer festival of daily orchestral concerts, watched by millions around the world. With hundreds of different concerts, shows and events taking place throughout the year, the Royal Albert Hall has something to suit all tastes. And what’s more, at a mere 15-minute walk from 100 Queen’s Gate, the convenience for our guests is second-to-none.