The last time we were in London, Dan and I signed up for a date night with a difference. We went for candlelight cocktails and a backstage snoop around the East End’s best-kept secret, Wilton’s Music Hall, one of the very few surviving music halls in the world. Follow me!
Wilton’s began life as an alehouse dating back to 1743, serving London’s dock workers drinks from the city’s first ever mahogany bar, now a cosy little room for your candlelight cocktails.
A local business man called John Wilton bought it sometime in the 19th century, and built a grand old concert room behind the mahogany bar, which soon became a theatre saloon and music hall. For most of the 20th century however, it narrowly escaped demolition during the slum clearance schemes of East London, after a time sitting empty and derelict, left to crumble away…
Luckily, long-time Spitalfields resident, Frances Mayhew, knew about the building and was so passionate to see its revival, she started raising funds in the 1990s to restore it. The ‘deliberately ramshackle’ look you see today, all that peeling paint, dusty chandeliers and crumbling walls, is all part of its recent multi-million-pound refurbishment which saw the building stripped down to its bare bones to evoke the atmosphere of a bygone era and make your entrance into Wilton’s special.
The music hall itself is a sight to see, almost church-like, which probably explains why it also in fact moonlighted as a Methodist Church until the 1950s. Today, it’s a magical venue hosting all kinds of events like swing nights, vintage clothing sales, plays, sing-a-longs and backstage tours.