10 reasons why you will fall in love with St George’s Hall
3 years ago
St George’s Hall is one of the finest examples of a neoclassical architecture in the world. But what do you really know about this magnificent building that many of us travel or walk past every day?
1. The myths surrounding it, either truth or fiction, add to its magic. The rumour the hall was built back to front and the poor unfortunate architect responsible did away with himself out of embarrassment and shame at his error, is not true. The building was always meant to face Lime St Station, which opened in 1836, well before the hall’s foundation stone was laid. But a little myth making hurts no one and only enhances the allure.
2. The sculptures outside the hall pay tribute to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Benjamin Disraeli and more. The four massive stone lions by W. G. Nicholl guarding the hall’s entrance are sober and majestic and wonderful to look at, but Scousers throughout the decades have turned creative after a couple of lager shandies on a Friday night and popped a traffic cone on one or more’s head imagining they are need of a hat!
3. The big steps and plateau out front make an ideal public meeting space and even stage. Due to the location, and Lime Street being a main artery into the city centre, it is not only easy to get there but the view is taken in by passersby both on foot and in cars, buses or taxi. This summer the steps set the scene for Black Lives Matter demonstrations attracting hundreds of people.
4. In 2015 The Wave and Weeping Window poppies, conceived by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, made up of several thousand handmade ceramic flowers, were arranged from the building’s roof and onto the pavement below. Part of the First World War commemorations, the display is still spoken about five years on. Last April, nine banners hung from the front of hall, featuring the images of the 96 people who lost their lives at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, along with the words ‘Never Forgotten’. Both of these are examples of how a historical building like St George’s can shift and fit in with events and occasions as they happen, and reflect the feelings of the people of Liverpool.
5. The Minton tiled floor inside is unveiled rarely, but when it is hoards of us go and visit. The design depicts Liverpool’s coat of arms, sea nymphs, dolphins and tritons. Made of an incredible thirty thousand tiles, when first constructed it was the largest Minton floor in the world. Back in the mid 1800s the original cost of creating the floor was £3,000, the equivalent of a quarter of a million pounds now, although the actual cost of recreating it in 2020 would run into millions.
6. The Liverpool Register Office has been based in the hall since 2012.The architecture inside and out makes it an extra special venue to tie the knot, and ensures wedding photos are especially picturesque. Last year we surprised this Liverpool couple by telling them they had won a dream wedding on the Minton Tiles.
7. Charles Dickens loved Liverpool and in April 1866 one of his celebrated reading tours took him to St George’s Hall, then on to the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. After the Manchester performance he chose not to spend the night in the city but instead returned to the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. He described the small concert room in St George’s as ‘the most perfect hall in the world’ and all these years later The Reader Organisation here in Liverpool hosts The Penny Readings each Christmas in his memory.
8. After a century and a half, in 2012 the Hall’s first statue dedicated to a woman was finally commissioned. Made of marble and created by London-based Simon Smith, ‘saint of the slums’ Kitty Wilkinson who opened Britain’s first public washhouse on Upper Frederick Street in 1842, joined 12 statues surrounding the Great Hall depicting Victorian and Edwardian men.
9. The hall’s famous organ was built in 1850s but has undergone many rebuilds, reconstructions and overhauls. Boasting 7,737 pipes, it was the largest organ in the country until an even bigger one was built in the Royal Albert Hall, after which an organ even larger than the one was constructed at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, using over 10,000 pipes. So Liverpool still wins!
The popular Lunchtime Organ Recital Series, cancelled due to the pandemic, hopes to return in the new year.
10. At the moment the hall is available only for wedding ceremonies and guided tours, but there are lots of events taking place in St George’s Hall in normal times. Concerts especially ones focused around classical and folk are popular but conferences, exhibitions, award ceremonies and more are held there too.