Settling into Whitechapel, I won't lie, has been a bit of a struggle. My colleagues reminisce about our old London office, which I find amusing. But then they are right, our new environs seems like a foreign city. I have a different tribe of fellow commuters, en route to Liverpool St station, who seem to wear an alternative wardrobe. Girls wear Michael Kors bags and trainers ( please can this footwear be banned) on the way to work. Chaps wear pinstripes and tailoring , and look well......... pretty smoking to my eyes. A far cry from the rag trade district of Oxford circus, where the population was 90% female. Then there is lunch; chicken tikka with a peshawari naan anyone? Yes it's the city, but it feels like the thin end of the wedge to me. I'm sure the city money will trickle through, they are certainly building for its arrival. But it's a bleak landscape from where I stand. Luckily, Wilton's music hall is easing the blow, and is only a mere hop and a skip from my new office. My childhood friend Tom had been trying to lure me for years, he lives round the corner, lucky him! So when the novelty of eating curry for lunch had finally run out, I decided to treat myself to some Welsh rarebit at The Mahogany bar. Famed for it's beautiful mahogany interior fixtures installed in 1828, sadly mostly all of its grand past has been stripped away. What remains, is a distinctly rustic room; all exposed brick work and fragments of original cornicing details, clinging to the wall by a whisker. A crew were working on the hall itself that day, so I booked myself and a colleague in for a Monday evening historical tour to learn more. My Boss said he wouldn't like to be locked in Wilton's over night, tormented by ghostly whispers of stage nights past. I disagree, Wilton's is one of the cosiest place I have been to for a long time. The hall would have been covered in hundreds of mirrored panels, all twinkling in the glow of gas lit lamps. What I wouldn't give to see it in its original state. In 1888 the hall was bought by the East London Methodist mission, closing the musical chapter in the hall's life. Perhaps that's why I feel so at home there, I went to two Methodist schools, it's familiar institutional territory.
The tour opened my eyes to the history of an area I am unacquainted with . Wilton's Music Hall is a survivor against all the odds. From it's humble beginnings in 1725 as a public house serving the Danish sailors, through to its current status; the world's oldest, surviving Grand Music hall, with grade II listing. Wilton's has had a long chequered past, which I won't attempt to do justice in this post. You can however, read more here on their website, and then see it for yourself. Have a drink, swot up on the historical tour, tap your feet to the live Music on a Monday evening, book a ticket from their programme of events. They badly need funds to support their restoration, and there is much to do. Just sipping a glass of wine, is a very special and rare experience, which people living on the other side of the world would be jealous of. These places make London arguably, the greatest city in the world. If walls could talk! Warning, the Montezuma chocolate cocktails are extremely potent and may make you do naughty things!
The below photos are courtesy of the Wilton's website, my photos just didn't come close to capturing the beauty of the grand old hall.