Episode 06: Wilton’s Music Hall | Guest: Harry HickmoreEpisode 06: Wilton’s Music Hall | Guest: Harry Hickmore


Wilton’s Music Hall can be found in Grace’s Alley off Cable Street in Tower Hamlets and is believed to be the oldest surviving grand music hall in Europe. It was built in the 1740s as an alehouse. In 1839, a concert room was built behind the bar that was greatly enlarged by the new owner John Wilton, who opened it in 1859 as “Wilton’s Music Hall”. Here, all the great Victorian artists like Arthur Lloyd, George Ware and ‘Champagne Charlie’ George Leybourne performed.

Harry Hickmore – Head of Development and Communications at Wilton’s Music Hall

Harry is Head of Development and Communications at Wilton’s Music Hall. In “Talks beyond time and place”, we chat about the building’s history, the importance of the music halls for London, Cockney Sing-a-longs, memorable performances at Wilton’s and modern-day admirers and supporters like Cate Blanchett and Sir David Suchet.




00:00​​​ London beyond time and place Intro

01:00​​​​ Introduction

03:08​ How long have you been part of the team at Wilton’s?

03:59​ What drew you to Wilton’s Music Hall?

06:37​ Who was John Wilton?

10:14​ The history of the building in Grace’s Alley

16:18​ Which original features are still there from the nineteenth century?

18:07​ What was the first performance at Wilton’s?

20:13​ Why did it become a Methodist Mission in the 1880s?

22:16​ A memorable performance: Deborah Warner’s and Fiona Shaw’s “The Waste Land” in 1997

26:12​ How culturally important were and are the music halls for London and London’s history?

30:30​ Do you still play the old music hall tunes?

32:00​ How did a visit to Wilton’s look like in the 1850s? What does it look like today? What is similar, what is different?

34:30​ What was the audience like back then? What is it like today?

36:33​ You still keep up the music hall character, but there is a variety of productions from plays to opera, there are musicals, classical concerts, rock shows – how do you plan your own productions?

38:50​ Wilton’s as location for films and music videos (like Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax”)

42:37​ What is the strangest story about Wilton’s? Are there any ghosts in the building?

46:04​ What is the current situation at Wilton’s?

47:46​ What can our viewers and listeners do to support Wilton’s right now?

50:09​ Wilton’s next projects after the pandemic


Wilton’s official website

Wilton’s on Wikipedia

Interview with Frances Mayhew, former Artistic & Managing Director of Wilton’s Music Hall (Spitalfields Life blog)

Interview with David Mason, Past Resident of Wilton’s Music Hall (Spitalfields Life blog)

Support Wilton’s

Essie Fox’s novel “The Somnabulist” features Wilton’s Music Hall: The Somnambulist (GOLLANCZ S.F.)*

The Danish Girl*


Audio and video

Explore Wilton’s Curious Past with Alice Cox

Tom Carradine: “Carradine’s Cockney Sing-a-long”

Cate Blanchett on The Beautiful Word campaign

Wilton's Music Hall photographed by Philipp Röttgers
Wilton’s Music Hall photographed by Philipp Röttgers


Talks beyond time and place” is a series of online conversations by author Philipp Röttgers of “London beyond time and place“. Philipp and his guests chat about how London influences their lives. In every episode, they cover certain topics, depending on the individual guest. Among his guests are scholars, historians, tour guides and more and the atmosphere feels like a conversation in a pub.

Music by Bryan Kolarczyk

Philipp Röttgers Talks beyond time and place
Philipp Röttgers Talks beyond time and place

*= affiliate links/advertising links

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