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THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL.
1851 gave three acres of land as a site for the and cushion and the letter “V.," above which the building, at the nominal rent of is. a year, on a principal floor is divided by terra-cotta piląsters, long lease, and subscriptions came in towards the between which are semicircular-headed windows. much-cherished object. A provisional committee, An idea of the vast character of the building may consisting of twelve members, was formed, of be obtained from the knowledge that 70,000 blocks which the Prince of Wales was president. They of terra-cotta were used in its construction. The held several meetings at Marlborough House; frieze, which is about 800 feet long and about £110,000 was soon subscribed ; and there was 6 feet wide, was made in sections of 50 feet, of every prospect of the intentions of the committee encaustic tessere, by Messrs. Minton and Co., being quickly realised, when a sudden stop was who employed in its working the female students put to the efforts of the promoters by the memo- of the School of Art at Kensington. Above rable panic of 1866. For a while all further these is the entablature, having a widely-projectproceedings ceased. In the plans of the proposed ing balcony four feet across. Surrounding the hall provision was made for a certain number of building, and high above the balcony, is mosaic sittings; and at the beginning of the year 1867 work, representing various allegories descriptive of Messrs. Lucas, the great contractors, came for the arts, commerce, and manufactures. These ward, and consented to purchase sittings valued mosaics are from the designs of Messrs. Horsley, at £38,000, on the understanding that they should Armitage, Yeames, Marks, Poynter, Pickersgill, and receive the contract for the building, the total cost Armstead. Round the frieze of the building runs of which was not to exceed £200,000. These the following inscription in large letters :--" This terms were agreed to by the provisional committee; hall was erected for the advancement of the arts the public nobly came forward and subscribed and sciences, and for the works of industry of all £112,000, the Royal Commissioners of the 1851 nations, in fulfilment of the intentions of Albert, Exhibition gave £50,000, Messrs. Lucas' propo- Prince Consort. The site was purchased by the sition was worth £38,000; and on the 20th of proceeds of the Great Exhibition of the year 1851. May, 1867, the Queen laid the foundation-stone. The first stone of the hall was laid by Her Majesty of the building, the original plans for which came Queen Victoria, on the 20th day of May, 1867, and from the late Captain Fowke, R.E.; Colonel Scott, it was opened by Her Majesty the Queen, on the R.E., being the architect. From that time the 29th day of March, in the year 1871." scheme was successful. A pardonable degree Above the frieze, in terra-cotta, in letters a foot of curiosity was aroused respecting the ultimate high, is the sacred text : “Thine, O Lord, is the destiny of the hall; but this was set aside when it greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the was announced that the new building was intended, victory, and the majesty : for all that is in the amongst other things, to accommodate science heaven and in the earth is Thine. The wise and congresses, to provide a suitable arena for musical their works are in the hand of God. Glory be to performances, and to serve other equally useful God on high, and on earth peace.” artistic and scientific purposes. For this the In the plan of the interior, it can be seen at once building is admirably adapted, from the immense that the architect has taken for his model the old disposable space it offers. Between 6,000 and Roman amphitheatre, though with such important 7,000 persons can be seated in the hall, and modifications as, happily, quite another kind of besides this, when the necessity arises, it is pos- entertainment, and, unhappily, less genial skies, sible to place as many as 2,000 spectators in com- required. Roman plebeians and aristocrats were fortable positions on an inclined staging in the mere spectators, looking down on the fierce and picture gallery, which runs nearly round the hall. bloody spectacles provided for their amusement in
Guided by the principles upon which the Romans the arena. Here it was necessary so to provide constructed those amphitheatric buildings, the re- that people might both hear and see, but above all mains of which strike modern spectators with awe things hear. Such a condition gives the key to the and admiration, the designers of the Albert Hall arrangement of the interior. Imagine, then, within have succeeded in raising a structure of eminently an outer shell of staircases, corridors, refreshment beautiful and attractive proportions. Seen from and retiring rooms, a vast hall, in shape of a the Park or the Kensington Road, the hall stands graceful oval, of which the southern end is all but boldly out in all the magnificence which invests a filled by the organ and an orchestra rising upwards building in the style of Italian Renaissance. The in tiers of seats. Fronting this orchestra is the base is of plain red brick, with single-headed win- auditorium, of horse-shoe form, composed of arena, dows, the keystone of which is formed of the crown a level space; the amphitheatre, or, as it might be
nable degree | Abday of March, in the year the Queen, on the
tiful and attractive proparoad, the hall stands
ensington Road.si, Seen from and outer shell of sti
aed by the organ and an
better termned, the stalls, sloping upwards towards £100; a loggia box, holding eight persons, £800; the boxes; three tiers of boxes; above them the a box on the grand tier, with ten places, £1,000 ;
picture-gallery. This gallery is not within the Thus the unit of £100 is taken as the cost per proper limits of the ellipse forming the interior, but seat in each case. The subscription season is is built over the staircases and corridors which form rather a long one-999 years. an outer zone to the portions of the auditorium One of the most striking features in the interior below. It runs, therefore, round the whole of the is the organ, which stands in the centre of the
scagliola pillars, through which the body of the hall | and simplest kind, itself its only ornament. It is is seen, are really its great ornament.
said to be the largest organ in the world, and was The boxes and balcony project from the wall into constructed by Mr. Henry Willis, the builder of the ellipse, each tier extending three feet beyond the organ at St. George's Hall, Liverpool. Some that above it. Such an arrangement enables the idea of the size of the instrument may be formed occupants of each tier to see without much diffi- when we say that it contains about 120 registers, culty, and be seen by those above them. One of about 8,000 pipes, distributed over four manuals the most remarkable features of the hall, in fact, is and a pedal organ. The pipes vary in length from the perfect view of the interior, and of all within about thirty-four feet to three-quarters of an inch. it, which can be had from any point. The boxes The only organ in England which approaches it in and stalls were taken by subscription. One of the size is that at the Alexandra Palace, built by the latter, comprising the right to a revolving chair, like | same maker; and it is about double the size of a music stool with arms, in the amphitheatre, cost the fine organ of St. Paul's Cathedral. In this
A MONSTER ORGAN.
organ the builder, for the first time, made use of feet, the shorter length is 180 feet, and there is a pneumatic tubes for the connection of the manuals distance of 140 feet between the floor of the arena and pedals with pipes at a distance, instead of the and the dome. old long tracker movement; and it is probable Since the day of the opening of the hall by that this invention will, in the course of time, cause Her Majesty, when the orchestra was occupied by important changes in the construction of such 1,200 instrumentalists and vocalists, concerts on gigantic instruments. With its vistas of polished a grand and extensive scale have been the chief pipes of all sizes, some of them gleaming like use to which the building has been put; and it silver, the organ arrests the eye at once on entering was also used for part of the display in the annual
the building; and when one hears that the motive | industrial Exhibitions of 1871-4. The grandest power is supplied by two steam-engines, one might scenes, perhaps, which have taken place within its be led to expect such a volume of sound as would walls were on the occasions of the state concerts almost blow the roof off.
given in honour of the visits to England of the The lighting of the hall is a novelty in itself. Shah of Persia, the Czar of Russia, &c.; another Thirty gold-coloured chandeliers, one in each arch, brilliant ceremony witnessed here was the insurround the picture gallery, each having fifteen stallation of the Prince of Wales as Grand Master lights. There is a third ring of sixty chandeliers, of the Lodge of Freemasons of England. with twenty-one lights each; and altogether there | Close by the Royal Albert Hall, on a plot of are nearly 7,00o gas jets, which can all be lit by ground granted by the Commissioners of the Exelectricity in ten seconds.
hibition of 1851, is the National Training School The spaces over the porches on the east and for Music, of which the Duke of Edinburgh was west sides of the hall have been in each case the first president. The building was constructed arranged as a lecture theatre, having a raised floor, in 1875, at the cost of Sir Charles Freake. The
Council of the Society of Arts undertook the people. At its widest part the hall measures 200 | supervision of the foundation of scholarships.
cture theater and hobain measure
people. "Atirm or stage, and holding Taised floor, in 1875
nt greatlyd at Chisanied being esa a large !
The Royal Horticultural Society, whose gardens, memorate the International Exhibition of 1851. as we have already stated, are enclosed by the The death of the Prince having occurred before Exhibition buildings on the south side of the Royal the work was completed, the memorial was made Albert Hall, was established in 1804, and incorpo- into a lasting tribute to the “great founder of the rated by royal charter soon afterwards. The society Exhibition.” The idea embodied is Britannia was instituted for the improvement of horticulture (typified by the Prince) supported by the four in all its branches, and it has an extensive experi- quarters of the globe-signifying that the Exhimental garden at Chiswick, five miles from London, bition originated in England, and was supported by laid out tastefully, and filled with many rare plants. all other nations. The monument stands upwards These gardens have acquired great celebrity from of forty feet in height, and represents the Prince their having been established at a period when in his robes as Grand Master of the Order of the gardening was in a very low condition in this Bath. The body of the memorial is of grey granite, country, and from having been the means of with columns and panels of red polished Aberdeen raising it to its present greatly-improved state. granite; the statue of the Prince, and also those of Previously to purchasing the land at Chiswick, the figures representing each quarter of the globe, the Horticultural Society had temporarily occupied being of bronze. a small piece of ground at Brompton, not far from In 1883 a large portion of the gardens of the the gardens which we are about to notice. In Horticultural Society was utilised for the purposes 1859 the society obtained (through the late Prince of an International Fisheries Exhibition, which was Consort) possession of about twenty acres of land opened by the Prince of Wales on the 12th of on this site, and new and splendid gardens were May. The exhibition was held in several temlaid out. These were opened in the summer of porary buildings, covering nearly twelve acres of 1862, forming a charming retreat from the bustle ground. It was designed with the view of illusof the Exhibition.
trating sea and fresh-water fishing in all its branches, Between the Kensington Road and Cromwell fish-culture, fishing-boats, fish-curing, fishing-tackle Road the ground falls about forty feet, and using and apparatus of all kinds, lifeboats and life-saving this fact in aid of a general effect, the ground has apparatus, diving apparatus, indeed, everything been divided into three principal levels. The immediately relating to and connected with the entrances to the gardens are on the lower level actual working of all kinds of fishing. Among the in Exhibition Road and Queen's Gate, and the more interesting features of the exhibition were the central pathway, upwards of seventy-five feet wide, aquaria of sea and fresh water, well stocked with ascending through terraces to the third great level, fish, anemones, aquatic plants, &c. ; also the fine leads to the winter garden or conservatory. The collection of pictures of marine subjects, and the whole garden is surrounded by Italian arcades, each collection of stuffed and preserved fish, and casts, of the three levels having arcades of a different and drawings; together with specimens and reprecharacter. The upper, or north arcade, where the sentations illustrative of the relations between exboundary is semi-circular in form, is a modification tinct and existing fishes. The boat used by Grace of the arcades of the Villa Albani at Rome. The Darling and her father, in 1838, in their gallant central arcade is almost wholly of Milanese brick- rescue of nine of the sufferers from the wreck of work, interspersed with terra-cotta, majolica, &c., the Forfarshire among the Farne Islands, was while the design for the south arcade has been exhibited, as also was the old Royal state barge adapted from the beautiful cloisters of St. John which was built in the reign of James II. Prizes Lateran at Rome. None of these arcades are less were offered for essays connected with the objects than twenty feet wide and twenty-five feet high, and of the Exhibition : on such subjects as the natural they give a promenade, sheltered from all weathers, history of commercial sea fishes of Great Britain more than three-quarters of a mile in length. The and Ireland, with special reference to such parts of arcades and earthworks were executed by the Com- their natural history as bear upon their production missioners for the Exhibition of 1851, at a cost of and commercial use ; as to the effect of the laws for £50,000, while the laying-out of the gardens and the regulation and protection of fisheries; on construction of the conservatory were executed by improved facilities for the capture and economic the Horticultural Society, and cost about the same distribution of sea fishes; and on improved fishery sum. On the upper terrace, in front of the conser harbour accommodation. Conferences were also vatory, and at the head of a lake, stands a memorial held for reading and discussing papers on subjects of the late Prince Consort, the work of Mr. Joseph connected with the exhibitions ; and instruction Durham, sculptor, originally intended only to com- in cooking fish was given.
“When shall we walk to Totnam, or crosse o'er
The water? or take coach to Kensington
Brome's "New Academy" (a play), 1658.
Gore House-Mr. Wilberforce, the Philanthropist-Lord Rodney-The Countess of Blessington and her Admirers-An Anecdote of Louis Napoleon-Count D'Orsay's Picture-A Touching Incident-Sale of the Contents of Gore House, and Death of the Countess of Blessington -M. Soyer's “Symposium”-Sale of the Gore House Estate-Park House-Hamilton Lodge, the Residence of John Wilkes-Batty's Hippodrome-St. Stephen's Church-Orford Lodge-Christ Church.
KENSINGTON, which is technically described as a was Grand Justiciary of England, and was created suburb of London, in the Hundred of Ossulston, Earl of Oxford by the Empress Maud. Upon the has long enjoyed distinction from its Palace, in attainder of John, Earl of Oxford, who was bewhich several successive sovereigns of the Hano- headed during the struggle for power between the verian line held their court, and which was the houses of York and Lancaster, the manor was birth-place of Queen Victoria. In the time of the bestowed by Edward IV. on his brother Richard, Domesday survey the manor of Kensington was Duke of Gloucester. After passing through the owned by the Bishop of Coutances, to whom it was hands of the Marquis of Berkeley and Sir Reginald granted by William the Conqueror. It was at that Bray, the property returned (as is supposed by time held by Aubrey de Vere, and subsequently, as purchase) to John, Earl of Oxford, son of the history tells us, it became the absolute property of attainted nobleman above mentioned. The manor the De Veres, who afterwards gave twenty Earls of is said to have again passed from that family, proOxford to the English peerage. Aubrey de Vere bably by sale, in the reign of Elizabeth ; and early