Albert Hall, Francis Fowke and H. Y. D. Scott

Albert Hall, Francis Fowke and H. Y. D. Scott

Built as a Hall of the Arts and Sciences, the Albert Hall is still the national public hall, hosting events that are institutions in themselves. These include the Proms concerts every summer, so-named for the members of the audience who ‘promenade’, or stand without seats, in the centre of the auditorium. The building itself is an elliptical, drum-shaped auditorium with a circumference of 225 metres, topped with a vast dome. Inside, 8000 seats are arranged in three tiers around an open centre, like a circus. Its style is influenced by the German architect Gottfried Semper and recalls his Dresden Opera of 1837-41. Semper, who lived briefly in England as a political refugee, was an influential architectural theorist and a friend of Prince Albert. The hall’s architect, Francis Fowke, undertook many of the early buildings that were to become the V&A, and some of the decoration, for example the massive frieze of the Triumph of Art and Letters, relates to decoration in the Museum.