theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
‘A vanished theatre on the borders of Hoxton, just before demolition, photographed by William Whiffin. In 1838, a tea garden by the name of ‘the Eagle Tavern’ was put up in Shepherdess Walk in the City Rd near the ‘Shepherd & Shepherdess,’ a similar establishment founded at the beginning of the same century. Melodramas such as ‘The Lights ‘O London’ and entertainments like ‘The Secrets of the Harem,’ were also given. In 1882, General Booth turned the place into a Meeting Hall for his Salvation Army. There is little suggestion of the pastoral about Shepherdess Walk now.’
‘The Grecian saloon theatre, better known perhaps, with its pleasure garden or yard, as the Eagle Tavern, City Road, which formed the material of one of Charles Dickens’s Sketches by Boz, was a place managed with much taste, enterprise and discretion by its proprietor, Mr Rouse. It was the “aloon” where the one and only attempt, with limited means, was ever made to import almost all the original repertory of the Opéra Comique in Paris, with the result that many musical works were presented to a sixpenny audience that had never been heard before nor since in England. Auber, Hérold, Adoiphe Adam, Boieldieu, Grétry, Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini and a host of others gave some sort of advanced musical education, through the Grecian, to a rather depressing part of London, long before board schools were established.’
via Arthur Lloyd
1821 – 0
2 Shepherdess Walk, Hoxton, Hackney, London, N1 7LB, England
The Eagle Tavern was built in 1821, and by 1832 had a pavilion in its grounds known as the Grecian Saloon. In 1841 the saloon was rebuilt and became a theatre proper, although it did not receive a licence until 1858. Alterations in 1858 made it a 2500-seat theatre, renamed the Royal Grecian. In 1877 a new 4000 seat theatre was built on the site of the old ballroom. In 1882 the buildings were put up for auction, and bought by the Salvation Army. The theatre was eventually demolished in 1900.
The Eagle Pub in Shepherdess Walk, off Old Street, marks the site of the 18th century Shepherd and Shepherdess pleasure-garden.
This was transformed during the 1820s into the Eagle Tavern whose lawn was the scene for balloon ascents, wrestling and stick-fights.
Grecian Theatre – view of the Chinese Pavilion looking west. Copy of pen and ink wash drawing, c. 1835 (Ref: P14777)
In the early 1830s the Grecian Saloon was added to the tavern, offering a variety of musical concerts ranging from religious Lenten performances to operas rivalling Sadlers Wells, alongside conjuring acts and ‘the lady on the elastic cord’.
The Grecian survived until the end of the 19th century, and is remembered as the venue of the debut of the then 15-year-old future queen of the music halls, Marie Lloyd. A rebuilt Eagle pub still stands, famous as being the place where, according to one theory, local leather workers would pawn – ‘pop’ – their tools – ‘weasels’ – for the price of a drink.
Much of the site of the Grecian Theatre and the pleasure-gardens is now covered by a police station, although a last relic of these still survives as the pub’s beer garden
via Hackney Council
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