© Peter Fuller
THE HACKNEY EMPIRE, 292 MARE STREET (west side)
HACKNEY, HACKNEY, GREATER LONDON
28 June 1972
Date of last amendment:
28 June 1972
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MARE STREET E8
No 291 (The Hackney
The description and grade shall be amended to read:
Variety theatre. 1901, by Frank Matcham for Oswald Stoll's "Empire" circuit.
Red brick with buff terracota dressings. Victorian Baroque style. 2-storey,
3-bay front. Half-glazed entrance doors set in square-headed architraves
with engaged columns framing centre bay and mannerist piers to outer bays.
Central first-floor bay has a pair of semi-circular arched windows set in
recess framed by 4-centred mannerist arch with scrolled ends set on squat,
bulbous Ionic columns and with balustrade to front; pilasters rise from arch
to blank balustraded parapet; wreath and musical trophies to tympanum of
swan-necked open pediment surmounted by female figure. Slightly-projecting
outer bays each have semi-circular arched openings with decorative head over
a pair of circular and vertical windows; each outer bay is surmounted by
extraordinary twin domes set on octagonal drums; lower drums have tall slit
openings, and upper domes are formed of circular balustrades with scrolled
brackets to Flambeaux. Other elevations are treated more simply with classical
terracotta dressings. Interior: in flamboyant Rococo Baroque style. Mosaic
floor and decorative plaster frieze to porch. Foyer of 3 x 3 bays has marbled
wood piers and walls, wreathed cornice and large quatrefoil panel to coffered
ceiling; painted panels of cherubs and composers set in oval frames hung
with festoons; decorative tile dados to passages leading to stalls. Marbled
balustrades to 2 flights of stairs continued to upper foyer which has painted
panels set in elaborate plaster ceiling; 3-bay semi-circular arched arcades
to front (mirror flanked by doorways to stairs) to rear (framing stained-glass
windows set in wood frames) and to side bays which have Rococo ceilings and
Art Nouveau plaster friezes. Fine auditorium; painted panels set in Rococo
frames above proscenium arch which is flanked by winged cherubs holding urns
and by onion domes set in curved recesses. 3-tiered auditorium with elaborate
Rococo plasterwork to front of cantilevered balconies, which have decorative
plasterwork beneath. 3-bay arcades flank proscenium to second floor, with
fluted Ionic piers separating tall central arch flanked by painted panels
above lower flanking arched with turned balusters to arcaded balcony fronts;
first-floor boxes framed by console brackets and decorative plaster friezes,
with semi-circular arched exit doors flanking proscenium. Decorative plaster
frieze and coved cornice with shell niches to panelled plaster ceiling.
Noted as one of the most exuberant Matcham interiors in Britain.
(B M Walker (ed), Frank Matcham. Theatre Architect, 1980).
MARE STREET E8
5013 (West Side)
(The Hackney Empire Theatre)
TQ 3484 25/379 28.6.72.
Architect Frank Matcham. Early Stoll theatre, dated 1901. Main east front of
2 storeys, 3 bays. Red brick with terracotta dressings in a fantastic baroque
style. Central roof raised above balustraded parapet whose central serpentine
open pediment bears a wreath and musical trophies. This is flanked by 2 tall domes
on octagonal drums. At 1st floor centre a wide recess under 4-centred arch but framed
in freely-adapted mannerist detail. Wide entrance with round and square columns
Lavish interior with gilt plasterwork and painted panels of rococo feeling. 3-tiered
auditorium has side panels and boxes, and deeply coved ceiling. Proscenium arch
of shallow curved entablature flanked by onion domes in curved recesses.
Little stage machinery remains. Theatre used as television studio in 1950's when
raked seating was removed; restored later for use as bingo club.