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Hackney Empire

Hackney Empire has become a vibrant creative hub, combining the best of tradition and innovation.

The Hackney Empire is a magnificent example of a Late Victorian variety palace. It is considered by architectural historians to be Frank Matcham at his most imaginative. Built for the twenty four year old theatre impresario Oswald Stoll in 1901, the fourth of his big suburban variety houses, it is now the only Matcham theatre surviving in its original use within the suburbs of Greater London.

Frank Matcham

Frank Matcham was responsible for the design of over 150 theatres between the years 1879 to 1912 and he also designed many public houses and early cinemas until his death in 1920.

The Empire

The interior main entrance foyer is in flamboyant Rococo Baroque style, with mosaic flooring (currently covered by carpet), and decorative tile dados to passages leading to the stalls. A double staircase leads to the Dress Circle decorated in white marbled and alabaster finishes, with a pink marble seat (a gift to Queen Victoria from the Shah of Persia) on the intermediate landing. The coffered ceiling originally had painted panels and the walls are decorated with painted panels of cherubs and composers in oval frames, with other decorations being mirrors and stained glass windows.

The opulent auditorium is highly mannered and eclectic in its details. A square deeply coved and ornamental ceiling, a light marble proscenium flanked by splayed buttresses containing elaborate niches, which are crowned by Indian domes. The arch itself and its pierced tympanum form a serpentine pediment above which are painted panels set in Rococo frames. Many original decorative panels were painted over during this redecoration, as was most of the marble and alabaster.