Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 St James's Hall


This new building which is externally concealed by houses, except the fronts, in Piccadilly and Regent-street, consists of a greater Hall and two minor Halls, which are let for Concerts, Lectures, etc., and also form part of the Tavern establishment, two of the Halls being used as public dining-rooms. The principal Hall, larger than St. Martin's, but smaller than Exeter Hall, is 140 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 60 feet high. At one end is a semicircular recess, in which stands the large organ. The noble room has been decorated by Mr. Owen Jones with singularly light, rich, and festive effect: the grand feature being the roof, which is blue and white, red and gold, in Alhambresque patterns. The lighting is quite novel, and consists of gas-stars, depending from the roof, which thus appears spangled.

The superb decoration and effective lighting, render this a truly festive Hall, with abundant space to set off the banquet displays. The first Public Dinner was given here on June 2, 1858, when Mr. Robert Stephenson, the eminent engineer, presided, and a silver salver and claret-jug, with a sum of money—altogether in value 2678l.—were presented to Mr. F. Petit Smith, in recognition of his bringing into general use the System of Screw Propulsion; the testimonial being purchased by 138 subscribers, chiefly eminent naval officers, ship-builders, ship-owners, and men of science.

In the following month, (20th of July,) a banquet was given here to Mr. Charles Kean, F.S.A., in testimony of his having exalted the English theatre—of his public merits and private virtues. The Duke of Newcastle presided: there was a brilliant presence of guests, and nearly four hundred ladies were in the galleries. Subsequently, in the Hall was presented to Mr. Kean the magnificent service of plate, purchased by public subscription.

The success of these intellectual banquets proved a most auspicious inauguration of St. James's Hall for—

"The feast of reason and the flow of soul."

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. II
London, 1866