The Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly

The Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly designed by P. J. Robinson. 1811-12. Photograph 1895. The Hall, which was torn down in 1905, was replaced by an office block at 170/171 Piccadilly.

The brainchild of William Bullock, the Hall was first intended to house Bullock's Museum, his collection of natural history exhibits. But it came to be used for other kinds of exhibitions. For example, the artist Benjamin Haydon's huge painting of Christ's Entry into Jerusalem "hung in the Great Room of the Egyptian Hall for seventh months, during which time it attracted crowds bringing the artist nearly £2,000 in admission charges" — although several hundreds of that went in rent (O'Keefe 196, and see note on p. 530). J. W. M. Turner also exhibited there, and the Hall's Dudley Gallery came to be particularly associated with watercolour paintings. The influential New English Art Club put on its first exhibition of Watercolour Drawings there in 1865, and from then into the early 1888s it became the main venue for "the early Aesthetic Movement" (Lanigan 18). It was also used for all sorts of popular entertainments. One curious use was as a venue for spiritualist gatherings, though, even more curiously, it was also a hub for anti-spiritualist activity during the 1870s (see Oppenheim 26). — George Landow and Jacqueline Banerjee

Link to related material


Betjeman, John. Victorian and Edwardian London from Old Photographs. London: B. T. Batsford, 1969. Plate 40.

Lanigan, Dennis. "The Dudley Gallery 1865-1882: The Principal Forum for the Early Aesthetic Movement." The Review of the Pre-Raphaelite Society. 10 (Spring 2002): 18-25.

O'Keefe, Paul. A Genius for failure: The Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon. London: Bodley Head, 2009.

Oppenheim, Jamet. Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Last modified 17 March 2022