The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

The Winchester Music Hall, Suffolk Street and Southwark Bridge Road

Formerly - The Surrey Music Hall - Later - The British Saloon / Grand Philharmonic Hall

See Also in this area: The Surrey Theatre - The Surrey Music Hall

Surrey Music Hall in 1854 - From a handbill

Above - The original Surrey Music Hall in an 1854 sketch from a handbill

The Winchester Music Hall began life in 1856 when the Surrey Music Hall, which had originally opened much earlier as a saloon attached to the Grapes Public House on Southwark Bridge Road, changed its name to the Winchester to avoid confusion when the newly built Surrey Music Hall opened in the Surrey Zoological Gardens.

The Winchester music hall was run by Richard Preece and his son from its opening as the Surrey and through its incarnation as the Winchester until 1878, when it was demolished and rebuilt, opening again on Wednesday the 3rd of April 1878 under the ownership of W. B. Fair, who would then go on to run the place until 1880. Fair recalled in one of his Evening News collums of 1909/10, that Jenny Hill, Arthur Lloyd, Herbert Campbell and Chirgwin all supported him at his testimonial benefit. Arthur Lloyd was also one of many artistes at the Winchester Music Hall's Inaugural opening night performance in April 1878.

The Winchester later became known as the British Saloon and then the Grand Philharmonic Hall, and was frequented by all the big names in music hall during its career until it was destroyed by fire in June of 1861.

The Winchester Hall - From 'Old & New London' 1897

At the corner of Great Suffolk Street and Southwark Bridge Road stands Winchester Hall. This is neither more - nor less than a concert-room of the ordinary music-hall type, and is attached to a public-house which originally bore the sign of "The Grapes." Close by this spot, in former times, were some well-known pleasure-grounds. They bore the name of Finch's Grotto Gardens, and were situated on the west side of Southwark. Bridge Road. They were first opened as a place of public resort about the first year of the reign of George III. Here Suett and Nan Cuttley acted and sang, if we may trust the statement of John Timbs, who adds that the old Grotto House was burnt down in 1796, but soon afterwards rebuilt, a stone being inserted in its wall with the following inscription:

"Here herbs did grow
And flowers sweet;
But now 'tis called
St. George's Street."

"Within my remembrance," writes Mr. John Reynolds in his agreeable work, 'Records of My Life,' "there was a place called Finch's Grotto Gardens, a sort of minor Vauxhall, situated near the King's Bench Prison. There was a grotto in the middle of the garden, and an orchestra and rotunda. The price of admission was sixpence, and the place was much frequented by the humbler classes." Old & New London - 1897.

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