Royal Albert Hall - History and Facts | History Hit

Royal Albert Hall

London, England, United Kingdom

Amy Irvine

22 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Royal Albert Hall

Built in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall has been one of London’s most popular entertainment venues for nearly 150 years. The Grade I listed building survived two world wars, looking almost the same today as it did during Queen Victoria’s reign.

History of the Royal Albert Hall

Originally called the Central Hall, this building project was started by Prince Albert using the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which took place in Hyde Park, just opposite the site. When Albert died of typhoid in 1861, building work was suspended until Henry Cole, Albert’s collaborator on the Great Exhibition, took charge and work began again in 1867.

The elliptical building was inspired by Roman amphitheatres, and built using over 6 million red bricks and 80,000 blocks of terracotta. It features a frieze in mosaic that spans the hall’s 244-metre circumference which portrays various countries bringing their offerings to the Great Exhibition.

Queen Victoria chose to rename the building the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences, and HRH The Prince of Wales declared the Hall officially open on on 29 March 1871, on behalf of his mother. Queen Victoria was present but was too overcome with emotion to speak – reminded of her late husband, Prince Albert, who had died a decade earlier. Albert never lived to see the Hall named in his honour.

Since the hall’s opening, the world’s leading artists from many performance genres have appeared on its stage, and the hall has famously been the venue for the BBC Proms concerts, held there every summer since 1941.

The Royal Albert Hall today

Today the hall is host to more than 390 shows in the main auditorium annually, including classical, rock and pop concerts, ballet, opera, film screenings with live orchestral accompaniment, sports, awards ceremonies, school and community events, and charity performances and banquets. A further 400 events are held each year in the non-auditorium spaces.

Getting to the Royal Albert Hall

South Kensington and High Street Kensington are the closest underground stations to the Royal Albert Hall – approximately a 10-15 minute walk from either station. (The nearest underground station offering step-free access from street to train is Green Park – you can take the number 9 bus to the Hall from there).

Victoria and Paddington are the nearest National Rail stations, each are an approximate 30 minute walk away but offer tube and bus connections. Bus routes 9/N9, 23, 52/N52, 70, 360, 452 and 702 stop near the hall.

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