Esoteric London

No. 497: Graces Alley, E1

Posted in Entertainment, Interiors, Theatrical London by esotericlondon on January 24, 2012

Wilton’s Music Hall , Graces Alley, London, E1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

Life in the London Streets – Richard Rowe, 1881:

A music hall largely patronised by sailors is our next house of call. It is full of fog and tobacco-smoke, and fumes of steaming grog. Glasses are clattering, spoons clinking, tongues clacking. There is a hush for a moment or two whilst the trapeze performer, who is earning his bread by risking his neck, darts and swings in mid air. As soon as he has reached his perch, with patches of perspiration blotching his flesh-coloured tights, tables are thumped until tumblers and jingling spoons jump up in a staggering dance; the people in the lower part of the house thumping hardest, as if expressing their gratitude – not because the performer is safe, but because he has not missed his hold, and dropped on them and their “refreshments.”

[Wilton’s is the oldest surviving Grand Music Hall in the world being opened by John Wilton in 1858. To read more of the venues history, to see information about forthcoming events or to see how you can help support this unique building you can visit the website by clicking here. R.D.]

2 Responses

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  1. Jonathan Madden said, on January 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    My father and his family were all brought up in this very area, in Wellclose Square in fact.
    Although they did not live with my grandparents at the time, there wasn’t any room.
    We are talking the early 1900’s, (my father was 82 when he died in 1989). They lived in a house in Ensign Street (now Dock Street) with a lady called Granny Wooster. She used to take in sailors, and take care of their wages, making sure they didn’t spend it all on women and booze.
    There was a courthouse gaol in Wellclose Square with a passage reputably running to the Tower, more pictures and history here.

    • esotericlondon said, on January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Thanks Jonathan, glad you enjoyed the post. I bet Granny Wooster had some tales to tell.

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