Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums - Crystal Palace

[nb. in Hyde Park 1851; in Sydenham 1854-1936, ed.]

Pictures and Souvenirs from the Exhibition (John Johnston Collection)

(home page:- John Johnston Exhibition, Bodleian

The Lodging-House Keepers of London are beginning to calculate the probable profits of the Great Exhibition season of 1851, or in other words, they are "counting their chickens before they are hatched;" that is to say, before they shell out. Somebody has said that 4,000,000 of strangers will be poured into London, and as there are not more than 1,000,000 beds to let, the rules of arithmetic call upon us to divide one by four, and as four into one won't go, we recommend some of the intended visitors before they leave a comfortable bed at home to "sleep upon it" until they have made sure of a substitute.

source: Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1850



[influx of foreign visitors to the Crystal Palace, ed.]

source: Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1851

NOBODY doubts the courage of the Police; but the gallantry of the body is being every day severely tested at the Great Exhibition. Though they would never hesitate to "clear the kitchen" - including sometimes the safe - they find it almost impossible to clear the Crystal Palace, when resisted by the powerful band of ladies who oppose the civil power at the point of the parasol. In vain do the constables attempt to forget the susceptibility of the man in the firmness of the officer; in vain does the Committee issue orders which blue cloth and oilskin might possibly execute, but which flesh and blood cannot carry out. Who could stand against a battery from the fire of the flashing  eyes of angry ladies; and what policeman would be bold enough to meet the charge of a light female brigade by a counter-charge at the station-house.
    If the regulations are really to be carried out for closing the Crystal Palace at a given hour, the only course will be to swear in a number of ladies as special constables, and throw upon them the execution of the duty, which no man - with such irresistible force opposed to him - can possibly perform.

source: Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1851


"Whoever Thought of Meeting You Here?"

source: Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1851



source: Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1851

source: Illustrated London News, Jul.-Dec. 1851



source: Punch, Jul.-Dec., 1851

    For the first week or two, the road within a mile of the ‘Glass Hive’ was blocked with carriages. From the Prince of Wales’ Gate to Apsley House there stretched one long line of cabs, omnibuses, carriages, ‘broughams’, ‘flies’, now moving for a few minutes, and now stopping for double the time, while the impatient visitors within let down the blinds and Thrust their heads out to see how far the line extended.    
    Now, there is scarcely a carriage or a Hansom cab to be seen. The great stream of carriage visitors has ceased (except on the most expensive days)... The southern entrance is no longer beset with broughams, but gathered round it are groups of gazers, too poor or too ‘prudent’ to pay for admission within. The public-houses along the road are now filled to overflowing, for outside them are ranged long benches, on which sit visitors in their holiday attire, resting on their way. Almost all the pedestrians, too, have baskets on their arms, evidently filled with the day’s stock of provisions.
    The ladies are all ‘got up’ in their brightest-coloured bonnets and polkas [jackets], and as they haste along, they ‘step out’ till their faces ate seen to glow again with their eagerness to get to the Grand Show, While the gentlemen in green or brown felt ‘wide-awakes’, or fluffy beaver hats, and with the cuffs of their best coats, and the bottoms of their best trousers turned up, are marching heavily on—some with babies in their arms, others with baskets, and others carrying corpulent cotton umbrellas.
    And inside the Great Exhibition the scene is equally different from that of the first week or two. The nave is no longer filled with elegant and inert loungers—lolling on seats, and evidently come there to be seen rather than to see. Those who are now to be found there, have come to look at the Exhibition, and not to make an exhibition of themselves There is no air of display about them—no social falsity—all is plain unvarnished truth. The jewels and the tapestry, and the Lyons silks, are now the sole objects of attraction. The shilling folk may be an ‘inferior’ class of visitors, but at least, they know something about the works of industry, and what they do not know, they have come to learn.
    Here you see a railway guard, with the silver letters on his collar, and his japan pouch by his side, hurrying, with his family, towards the locomotive department. Next, you come to a carpenter, in his yellow fluffy flannel jacket, descanting on the beauties of a huge top, formed of one section of a mahogany tree. Then may be seen a hatless and yellow- legged Blue-coat boy mounting the steps of one of the huge pneumatic lighthouses, to have a glance at the arrangements of the interior. Peeping into the model of the Italian Opera are several short-red-bodied and long-blacked-legged Life Guardsmen; while, among the agricultural implements, saunter clusters of countrymen in smockfrocks.
    On the steps of the crimson-covered pedestals are seated small groups of tired women and children, some munching thick slices of bread and meat, the edges of which are yellow with the oozing mustard. Around the fountain are gathered other families, drinking out of small mugs, inscribed as ‘presents for Charles or Mary’; while all over the floor, walk where you will—are strewn the greasy papers of devoured sandwiches.
    The minute and extensive model of Liverpool, with its long strip of looking-glass sea and thousands of cardboard vessels, is blocked round with wondering artisans, some, more familiar with the place, pointing out particular streets and houses. And as you pass by the elaborate representation, in plaster, of Underdown Cliff, you may hear a young sailor—the gloss upon whose jacket indicates that he has but recently returned from sea—tell how he went round the Needles last voyage in a gale of wind. Most of the young men have catalogues or small guide-books in their hands, and have evidently, from the earnest manner in which they now gaze on the object, and now refer to the book, come there to study the details of the whole building.
    But if the other parts of the Great Exhibition are curious and instructive, the machinery, which has been from first to last the grand focus of attraction, is, on the ‘shilling days’, the most peculiar sight of the whole. Here every other man you rub against is habited in a corduroy jacket, or a blouse, or leathern gaiters; and round every object more wonderful than the rest, the people press, two or three deep, with their heads stretched out, watching intently the operations of the moving mechanism.
    You see the farmers, their dusty hats telling of the distance they have come, with their mouths wide agape, leaning over the bars to see the self-acting mills at work, and smiling as they behold the frame spontaneously draw itself Out, and then spontaneously run back again. Some, with great smockfrocks, are gazing at the girls in their long pinafores engaged at the doubling-machines.
    But the chief centres of curiosity are the power-looms, and in front of these are gathered small groups of artisans, and labourers, and young men whose coarse red hands tell you they do something for their living, all eagerly listening to the attendant, as he explains the operations, after stopping the loom.
    Here, too, as you pass along, you meet, now a member of the National Guard, in his peculiar conical hat, with its little ball on top, and horizontal peak, and his red worsted epaulettes and full-plaited trowsers; then you come to a long, thin, and clean-looking Quaker, with his tidy and clean-looking Quakeress by his side; and the next minute, may be, you encounter a school of charity girls, in their large white collars and straw bonnets, with the teacher at their head, instructing the children as she goes.
    Round the electro-plating and the model diving-bell are crowds jostling one another for a foremost place. At the steam brewery, crowds of men and women are continually ascending and descending the stairs; youths are watching the model carriages moving along the new pneumatic railway; young girls are waiting to see the hemispherical lamp-shades made out of a flat sheet of paper; indeed, whether it be the noisy flax-crushing machine, or the splashing centrifugal pump, or the clatter of the Jacquard lace machine, or the bewildering whirling of the cylindrical steam-press—round each and all these are anxious, intelligent, and simple-minded artisans, and farmers, and servants, and youths, and children clustered, endeavouring to solve the mystery of the complex operations.
    For many days before the ‘shilling people’ were admitted to the building, the great topic of conversation was the probable behaviour of the people. Would they come sober ? Will they destroy things ? Will they want to cut their initials, or scratch their names on the panes of the glass lighthouses ? But they have surpassed in decorum the hopes of their wellwishers. The fact is, the Great Exhibition is to them more of a school than a show...

source: Henry Mayhew 1851 or, The Adventures of Mr and Mrs Sandboys, and Family, who came up to London to ‘enjoy themselves’ and to see the Great Exhibition, 1851

see also David Bartlett in London by Day and Night - click here


[• The multiplicity of objects in the Crystal Palace is found so perplexing to ordinary visitors, that this paper has been prepared with a view to furnish a clue to seeing, in an orderly manner, in one visit, its principal features. ]

How swiftly we rush along! as though our locomotive had just received a stimulative supply of alcohol, in lieu of water, to incite it to drag us bravely up the incline, whence, in an instant, we shall gain our first near glimpse of the Crystal Palace. See! like a vision of magic, its striking foreground and magnificent park come into view; whilst, beyond them the Palace rises, wondrous in extent, yet so light and aerial in aspect, as almost to defy belief that it is a thing of solid substance.
    A pleasant journey we have had by railway. Ere, however, the interior of the Palace is reached, a long walk awaits us, commencing with the gigantic flight of steps before us, leading from the trains to the ticket-taking entrance. From this point you perceive there is a route across the park to our destination, through the door there to the right, and another along the pretty flower-adorned corridor facing us. The latter we will follow. It will bring us to another flight of stairs and the third-class refreshment• room, where visitors may obtain an excellent dinner of cold meat and bread, with a temperate glass of beer, for ninepence—a great consideration to those who seek enjoyment without extravagance. Take a peep into the refreshment-room, and observe how conveniently it is arranged. Now ascend to the gallery above, conducting to the final ascent.
    At length, as the reward of our pilgrimage, the shrine is attained. Is it not beautiful? Yet re- strain your admiration, and move round slightly to the left, along by the small refreshment tables to the front of yon splendid screen, covered with statues, each representing a sovereign of England. What an enchanting scene here meets the eye! A seemingly interminable vista opens, presenting innumerable gaily-dressed groups of visitors, promenading through lines of luxuriant foliage, intermingled with statuary, from behind which arise ranges of elaborately ornamented facades, and lofty, slender, parti-coloured columns, festooned and enwreathed with graceful climbing plants, springing from the ground, and shooting out from suspended baskets, lustrous with blossoms of every hue ; while, high overarching all, is a crystal canopy, stained, as it were, with the mellow blue of the heavens, or sparkling with myriads of sunlight reflections. In the foreground, covered with white and purple and crimson water-lilies, is a sheet of water, from the midst of which springs the world- renowned crystal fountain, glittering with prismatic colours. The scene, in fact, look in whichever direction we may, displays features of beauty, magnificence, and interest, which cannot fail to inspire enthusiastic appreciation.
    The main building, as seen from this point, is composed of a nave, more than a quarter of a mile long, 72 feet wide, and 104 feet high ; of two side aisles, giving, with other arrangements, a general width to the Palace of about 312 feet ; of three transepts, termed respectively the South, Central, and North — the South and North being each 336 feet long from east to west, and 72 feet from north to south ; and the Central one 384 feet from east to west, 128 feet from north to south, and 168 feet high. Above each aisle are two galleries, which run entirely round the edifice ; whilst above them, in certain quarters, are other galleries, from which particularly striking views of the interior and the peculiar construction of the edifice may be obtained. And, marvel of marvels, " the total length of columns," says the official guide-book, " employed in the construction of the main building and wings, would extend, if laid in a straight line, to a distance of sixteen miles and a quarter. The total weight of iron used in the main building and wings amounts to 9641 tons, 17 cwt., 1 qr. The superficial quantity of glass used is 25 acres ; and if the panes were laid side by side, they would extend to a distance of 48 miles ; if end to end, to the almost incredible length of 242 miles." To which may be added the further marvel, that on the edifice and its appurtenances, the park, etc., not much less than a million and a half sterling has been expended. This series of facts, combined with what we see around us, evinces a truly amazing amount of cost and skill in design, and taste in execution—all, too, bestowed on a shilling exhibition for the people, and renders the establishment one without a parallel.
    Looking down the nave, from where we are standing, we face the north, and therefore have the east on our right hand, and the west on our left. Lying immediately on either hand, occupying the eastern and western ends of the South Transept, is the ethnological and natural history department of the Palace. Commencing our tour of inspection here, with the western portion of the department, or that referring to the New World, we find ourselves amongst highly interesting and instructive representations of the human and brute creations of North and South America, so grouped as to display their ways and habitudes, and, as far as possible, the scenery and vegetation of their locale. The neighbouring glass-cases contain specimens of beautiful American birds, of North American river-animals, and of West Indian corals, sponges, and molluscules, as found assembled together at the bottom of the sea. Everything about us is, in fact, wonderfully characteristic. Look, for instance, at these groups of Indians some asleep, others at work just as they might be seen in their native lands. Nov observe this graphic representation of the polar bear and other arctic animals "at home," amidst icebergs and the bleak desolateuess of the North Pole, all so truthfully displayed that we need but travel five miles from London to be able to obtain a perfect idea of one of the most striking scenes of nature, existing thousands of miles away, and only accessible to the human eye under circumstances of the greatest difficulty and danger.
    We have now passed out of the South Transept into what is termed the Pompeian Court, and the southern end of the western aisle. Imagining that this Court incloses, as it assumes to do, a real Pompeian house, this airy uncovered portion is the atrium, or outer court of the edifice, used for the reception of visitors. Those small rooms surrounding it are bed-chambers—cell-like looking places, to be sure, but in the days of the Pompeians, and under their sultry clime, doubtless adapted to their requirements, especially as there is reason to believe that they did not regularly go to bed, as we do, in a four-post bedstead, but merely threw theme selves upon a shall couch, and made their toilets next day in their bath-rooms requiring, therefore, no space in their sleeping apartments for toilet conveniences, or for aught beyond the couch, and it may be, an occasional yawn and stretch of the arms on arising, idly inclined. Through the open side of this atrium we see the state-room of the house, its columned garden, and dining-room; the whole attesting, by their decorations, the cultivated taste and art proficiency that once existed in Pompeii, the overthrown city, whose intellectual cultivation was sadly in contrast with its moral depravation.
    Succeeding this revival of the works of an obliterated race one this side of the Palace, and inviting our further progress, are compartments, styled the Sheffield, Birmingham, and Stationery Industrial Courts, the News Room, the Central Transept, and the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Alhambra, and Assyrian Fine Arts Courts, each of which we shall notice on our passage through it. Within, between, and behind the Industrial Courts, exhibitors' stands are placed, displaying almost every description of manufactured articles, and forming part of the universal museum of natural and useful art productions the Palace may be said to contain.
    Here we stand within the Sheffield Court, containing a choice and valuable assortment of Sheffield wares, and considered by many, on account of the exquisitely light and elegant arcade of arches forming its upper part, to be the most pleasing in appearance of all the Industrial Courts. They are composite Moresque Gothic in design, and iron in material ; whilst iron and plate-glass are exclusively employed in the construction of the whole.
    On leaving this Court, do not fail to notice the gorgeous-looking stand of gold, silver, and plated goods you will come upon; then, before entering the Birmingham Court, turn to the left, to pause and admire Bell's lovely marble group of the "Babes in the Wood;" for the sight of that alone is more than worth the cost of a visit to the Palace. One of the most noteworthy features of this, the Birmingham Court, is its splendid facade of cast iron, in the English ornamental style of the seventeenth century an appropriate characteristic, Birmingham being the chief seat of the application of iron to ornamental as well as useful purposes, interesting examples of which are to be seen spread around in profusion. Between the architectural peculiarities of this and the next, or Stationery Court, a marked difference exists the latter being formed entirely of wood, ornamented in the Cinque cento style. And see how different are the contents of the one and the other, yet intimately connected by a link obvious on reflection; for here are exhibited splendid specimens of costly book-binding, maps, prints, and stationery ware in general, which could not be produced without the aid of such implements and material as Birmingham chiefly manufactures and employs in her work-shops. After what we have been feeding our minds upon, the Penny News Room (although apparently a very superior place of the sort) can have no charms for us to-day, consequently we will pass on through the approaching groups of English and German sculpture into the great or Central Transept. Observe the noble span and vast height of its roof! No part of the building required so much skill to erect as this ; and, unhappily, the valuable lives of several workmen were sacrificed during the process of erection. But as we shall have another opportunity of examining this portion of the building at our leisure, we will leave its multifarious attractions for the present, and press forwards into the Fine Arts Courts, bearing in mind that each of these Courts, with those immediately opposite to them, shows the state of the arts of architecture and sculpture, with reference to the country after which it is designated.
    The first of the Fine Arts Courts before us is the Egyptian Court, presenting features awfully solemn, imposing, and mystical in character, as the remote ages of the world to which they carry the imagination back. Here also are models of both early and late Egyptian architecture, all displaying solidity, grandeur, and simplicity, indicative of the earliest periods of scientific construction, some being models of portions of temples and palaces, and some of tombs. Of much of the surrounding sculpture, it must be admitted that it is stiff and unnatural ; perhaps, however, the result only of conventional requirements having been followed in its conception ; and the whole of it denotes the heathen principles which animated the Egyptians of yore.
    A glance suffices to show that we are now in the Greek Court; amongst the relics of a race differing greatly front the Egyptians, more refined in their conception of beauty of form and expression, and more ideal in the embodiment of their imaginings. Greek art is of the highest order—poetic, chaste, and elevated. No other country carried sculpture and architecture to so great a degree of perfection as Greece ; and it would appear to be vain to hope to surpass the excellence it achieved. Hence its best works have justly become fixed standards of perfection, as regards grace, proportion, sentiment, and execution.
    But here is an arch, seen nowhere else about this Court, because it is intended to indicate a change of architectural style, being that of the Romans; for though the arch was not first employed by them, as is proved by modem discoveries in Egypt and Assyria, they were the first people who adopted the general use of it in buildings, showing therein taste and discernment, as the greatest beauty and strength are alike its characteristics. This, the Roman Court entrance, presents, you perceive, a pleasing vista, formed of arches, and terminating at the Alhambra Court, towards which we will wend our way, gazing the while on the numerous objects of historic as well as art interest which lie along our path.
    Now mark the wondrous change of scene that meets the eye! Ideal, graceful, and beautiful, as are the Greek and Roman creations of genius we have just been contemplating, still the surrounding Alhambra balls appear to be the offspring of the more poetic fancy. In gazing on them, a sense steals upon us of a different, if not superior, race of producers gene, gnomes, and fairies --- beings accustomed only in their habitations to whatever excitingly attracted and gratified the senses ; such as arches and roof's trimmed with exquisitely delicate fretwork ; illuminated walls, covered with fanciful arabesque patterns ; the fragrance of lovely flowers, and soft murmuring's of air-cooling fountains. The halls represented are the Court of Lions, the Hall of Justice, and the stalactite roofed Hall of the Abencerrages ; each in a manner conveying a perfect idea of the unsurpassable splendour of its multifarious decorations a splendour, we fear, which will render the appearance of the North Transept, we are about to enter, somewhat cold and tame, although it represents tropical regions, and abounds in striking attractions, as witness this avenue of palms and sphinxes, forming an appropriate oriental-looking foreground to the gigantic figures towering above us.
    The latter are sixty-five feet high, and are supposed to portray Rameses the Great, seated on a throne ; the massive temple behind is Nubian, and for many reasons is fittingly located next to the Assyrian and Nineveh Court. It is but a few years since the originals, serving as models for this Court, were discovered ; consequently these sculptured tablets, winged bulls, symbol painted walls, and extraordinary effigies of combined human and brute beige, are facsimiles of newly resuscitated remains of the past ; displaying likewise remarkable architectural and sculptural features, previously unknown to man for aces anterior to the Christian era. Examine them well, for they will impart to you many new and valuable ideas. The sculptured tablets are curiously-elaborated symbolic and pictorial representations of events full of the most singular and minute details, introduced therein to render them comprehensible as public records, or adapt them to serve the purposes of our modern written histories the art of writing having been unknown to the Assyrians. Every figure about us here is typical of some incident or peculiarity connected with the histories of Assyria and Nineveh.
    Gleamed upon by the huge watchful eyes of the noble pair of man-headed, winged bulls behind us, we have now arrived at the north or tropical end of the Palace, and stand amidst trees, and plants, and birds, familiar only to regions far :sway, and widely diverse from our own. From this end of the Palace a wing juts out, called the North Wing, containing a picture gallery. We will visit it, however, on another occasion, as we have enough before us to occupy our attention for the remainder of the day.
    Onwards, then, to the architectural Fine Arts Courts, of which there are seven, not only containing an enormous mass of the finest architectural details, but a profusion of contemporaneous tombs and sculptures, all masterpieces of art. These three archings - note how charming the view through them! -  lead into the Byzantine and Romanesque Court ; the cloister to the right is Romanesque ; the other objects are sufficiently explained by the inscriptions affixed to them ; and as almost everything exhibited in the architectural Courts is similarly explained, if you will rest a while, we will endeavour to compress into a few words, all that we think necessary to point out with regard to the series, and the other objects we shall meet with en route to our original starting- point.
     To begin with our neighbour, the German Medieval Court : the guide-book speaking of it, says that it is devoted exclusively to examples of Gothic art and architecture in Germany ; and, taken with the English and French Medieval Courts, it gives an excellent idea of the style and character of architecture in those three countries during the middle ages. Succeeding the German, is the English Mediaeval Court, containing splendid specimens of Norman early English, decorated and perpendicular styles of architecture, as well as a cloister, one of the gems of the Palace. Next occurs the French and Italian Mediaeval Court, the style of which, for the sake of instruction, should be compared with that of the preceding Courts, and of the adjoining Renaissance Court.
    The latter-mentioned is a species of revival of the antique Roman, with florid modern accessories. The chef-d'oeuvre of the Renaissance Court is the remarkable fac-simile it contains of the wonderful Florentine Ghiberti Gates. The Renaissance leads into the Elizabethan Court-- a highly interesting one, as showing one of the superior deviations from the acknowledged original standard styles of architecture ; as also, for the same reason, is the Italian Court, which succeeds it, and is modelled after the Farnese Palace in Rome.
    On leaving the Italian Court, another maze of beautiful architectural and sculptural models will invite and repay inspection, as will also the Great Transept, the French Court, the newly-opened Ceramic Court, containing- superb specimens of porcelain ; the Glass Court, displaying the choicest description of fancy glass goods ; the Musical Instruments Court ; and, lastly, the Ethnological and Natural History Department, illustrating Asiatic, African, and Australian races of human beings and wild animals.
    Long as our stroll has been, the delightful distractions attending it have brought us unfatigued to this, the Ceramic Court, which is so brilliant, so unique, and so complete in its appointments, that it irresistibly claims further comment. It contains the finest examples of pottery and porcelain, displaying art in form and decoration, and produced between the present period and remotest antiquity. The works of living manufacturers and Assyrian ware are brought together in these cases, united by a series of old Chelsea, Worcester, Wedgwood, Sevres, Dresden, Berlin, Vienna, Limoges, Mayolica, and other descriptions of ceramic productions, modern as well as ancient. This chain of art is formed with the greatest taste and discrimination, and nearly every link of it is worth its weight in gold. Gems, fruits, flowers, metals, gorgeous masses of colour, and the finest paintings, are imitated to perfection on plain or ornamental forms of the utmost purity and grace. The classic groups of Wedgwood ware are surpassingly fine ; but where all is so perfect, individual taste alone can accord the palm of superiority to one portion of the display over any other. The value set upon one of these cases of groups by its proprietor is, we have heard, as much as £15,000 ; single objects likewise being similarly highly valued, or at from 100 to nearly 2000 guineas.
    Once more the small refreshment-tables meet the eye ; but this time surrounded by hungry groups, satisfying their appetites with the dainties supplied for visitors who have not imitated our economic example, and brought their own refreshment with them. Yet the charges here are by no means extravagant; unlimited veal and ham pie, roast and boiled beef, salad and bread and cheese, for eighteenpence ; pigeon-pie, or chicken with ham or tongue, for two shillings ; jelly or pudding being sixpence extra. The knives and forks clattering here make, however, a less agreeable music than that of the band, which has now commenced playing. We will proceed, therefore, slowly down the line of the nave's ever-varying attractions, to the Orchestra, then rest a while and enjoy our lunch and the music together ; but without having seen more than half of the interesting con- tents of the Palace a portion, however, that, with a sight of the fountains, must content us on this occasion.
    Hark ! the gong sounds, announcing that the fountains are about to be displayed ! We will view then to-day from the Terrace in front of the Palace, descending and proceeding thereto by the way of the Great Machinery department. This is an excellent place, exactly central, and affording a splendid prospect of a landscape considered to be one of the finest in the kingdom. See how its features are momentarily diversified by lines of light and shadow playfully darting across its rich masses of woodland, as though engaged chasing each other up hill and down dale in a summer's day pastime. Now the tallest fountain jets, like silver framework, divide the scene into compartments, vying with each other in loveliness. Higher and higher some of them rise, the others the while dancing merrily around them, making their own music. The gay sound of waters is heard, rushing and tossing gleefully about. There a lovely iris has formed across the spreading sheet of the centre tall jet ; and mark how the ladies are wildly fleeing hither and thither to save their pretty dresses from being soaked with envious spray a diversion which amused even our gracious Queen on the day (the 18th of last June) of the first display of the complete fountain system. Ah ! that was a beauteous sight. On the high ridge of ground there, just above the large lakes, thousands of spectators were ranged, grouped round a mass of brilliant scarlet uniforms, the ladies' lively-coloured dresses making the green sward beneath shine as if flower-enamelled ; along the pathways winding amongst the trees and shrubberies, and surrounding the water basins, were lines of more gay company, whilst numerous detached groups stood dotted about the lawns in every direction. But the great feature of the fete was our Queen, who, accompanied by her guests, husband, and family, graciously condescended to be driven slowly through the ground, and bestowed her sweet, never-to-be-forgotten smile on one and all, creating in every breast the impression that she is the most fascinating of women, as well as loveable of sovereigns. During her progress, the air continuously rang with grateful huzzas, and when the new great fountains spouted forth their enormous liquid columns (the cascades pouring their sparkling crested volumes into the lakes) ; and when the sun gleamed out, as it did at the moment, with brighter beams, and the winds broke the aspiring waters into sheets of silvery mist, the scene, as you may imagine, be- came almost overpoweringly exciting.
    Well, we have told our tale ; the fountains have ceased playing, and we think it time to be wending homewards. Our course shall be across the grounds to yonder doorway at the end of the south wing of the Palace, and leading to the trains. Take a passing glance at the tastefully laid-out park, and lovely scenery beyond, now becoming more and more tenderly illuminated by the declining sun, whose rays are gradually producing an increasingly softening gloom, beautifully expressive of day melting away. On our route to our dear home we will recall the unlimited sources of useful and interesting knowledge we have been exploring, and bestow a grateful thought upon those whose exertions have enabled us to enjoy an eve•-memorable day of pleasure at the Crystal Palace. To-morrow let us work all the brisker for our holiday.  

source: The Leisure Hour, 1856

Our leisure, or, at least, my leisure, was spent at the Crystal Palace, in the winter looking at such shows as we could get into by luck or cunning, and in the good weather, in the grounds, where the shrubberies were full of birds' nests - and sometimes improperly behaving lovers, where occasionally on Sundays we could manage to get hold of a boat and row across to the islands in the lake and penetrate into the very interiors of the prehistoric animals, where there were certain places in which we could help ourselves to coloured-fire laid out ready for the Firework Thursdays, and where there were on race-track races between men on horseback and men on bicycles and cycle-races and so on. I remember now the roar of laughter that went round the grassy slopes when the first safety bicycle made its appearance! And it was in the roller-skating hall of the Crystal Palace that I first fell in love with a girl of much my own age, who was, I was sure, as pretty at Dulcie in Vice Versa, and who skated so very much better than I did. How hard I tried to make her acquaintance!

source: Grant Richards, Memories of a Misspent Youth, 1932

see also James Payn in Lights and Shadows of London Life (1) (2)


The Crystal Palace, in addition to the thousand and one other entertainments (for they are really now as numerous as those of the Arabian Nights) will offer shortly, it is stated, a thousand and second, in the shape of baths, where we may entertain ourselves by swimming or by seeing others swim.

source: Punch, May 14, 1870

source: Routledge's Popular Guide to London, [c.1873]

Opened at 10 a.m.; closed at dusk.
TRAINS from London Bridge (London, Brighton, and South-Coast Railway) and Victoria Terminus, Belgravia, every 15 minutes. Average duration of journey, 20 minutes.
Fares from London Bridge and Pimlico.
First class, with admission to the Palace (every day but Saturday), return 2s. 6d.
    Second class ditto ditto . 2s. 0d.
    Third class ditto ditto . . . 1s. 6d.
    Children under 12, half-price.
Admission to the Palace, 2s. 6d. on Saturday, and 1s. every other day.
Season tickets, issued in. April, 1l. 1s.
The Crystal Palace demesne, formerly known as Penge Park, occupies about 200 acres, chiefly of elevated and well- wooded ground, overlooking a very extensive and most magnificent series of landscapes. The building itself is a development of the Industrial Palace of 1851, and was designed by the same ingenious architect, Sir Joseph Paxton. Its total length is 1608 ft.; its greatest width, 384 ft.; height of the nave, 110 ft. 3 in., of the central transept, 194 ft.; width of the transept, 120 ft.; height of the north and south transepts, each 150 ft.; width of ditto, 72 ft.; height of towers, 284 ft.; area occupied by the whole building, 603,072 ft.
    The gardens are surpassingly beautiful, and of great extent, and in the shimmer of noble fountains present a coup-d'oeil which will not readily be forgotten. The Upper Terrace is 1576 ft. long, by 48 ft. wide; the Lower Terrace, 1664 ft. by 512 ft. wide. Length of the garden front, 1896 ft.
    The fountains, which in volume and beauty of arrangement, excel even the famous water-works of Versailles, are supplied from the water-towers; the tanks on whose summits contain 357,675 gallons. They consume - through 11,788 jets - no less than 120,000 gallons per minute, the supply being kept up by steam power.
    Entering the building, let us now proceed to traverse its whole extent, starting from the Screen, which is ornamented with figures of the English sovereigns, copied from Thomas's admirable statuary in the New Palace at Westminster. As we move forward we shall pass in succession, on either hand, casts of famous sculptures.
    The Courts will now demand our attention. From the north transept we pass into the Assyrian Court, a species of reproduction of Mr. Austen Layard's "Nineveh," effected by Mr. Ferguson.
    The Egyptian Court, with its mysterious Sphynxes, its hieroglyphic "Rosetta Stone," its Hall of Columns, the rock-tomb from Beni.Hassan, the sculptured pillars from the temple at Phile, was principally arranged by Mr. Bonomi.
    The Greek Court contains some good copies of beautiful antiques. The frieze from the Parthenon of Athens is presented in the gallery at the back. Observe the group of the Laocoon "deifying pain;" Ariadne sleeping; and the Discobolus, or Quoit-Player.
    The Roman Court imitates the architectural wonders of the magnificent Colosseum, and enshrines casts of the famous Apollo Belvidere, 
        "The Lord of the unerring Bow,
        The God of life, and poesy, and light (Byron);
of Venus Calypigia, Venus Anadyomene, and busts of Menander, Poseidippus, Agrippina, and Trajan.
    The Pompeian Court is an admirable reproduction of the domestic architecture in vogue at Pompeii - the lava-buried city, .the city of the dead-at the epoch of its destruction by a sudden eruption of Vesuvius. The details were arranged by Signor Abbate.
    The Byzantine Court illustrates the architectural character of the Constantinople of the Greek Emperors, the ancient Byzantium.
The Alhambra, reminding the visitor of the glories of the Abencerrages and the romantic history of Moorish Spain, evidences the taste and erudition of Owen Jones.
    The Medieval Court is devoted to an illustrated history of the various periods of English architecture:
        Norman, prevailing from A.D. . . 1066 to 1200
        Early English, ditto . . . . 1200 to 1300
        Decorated, or Later Pointed, ditto 1300 to 1400
        Perpendicular, ditto . . . . 1400 to 1500
        Tudor, ditto . . . . . . 1500 to 1600
    The French, Italian, and German Medieval Vestibu1es; the Elizabethan Court; the Renaissance (or New Roman) Court; and the Italian Court, are all replete with interest to the observant visitor, - to him who is not content with the mere amusement afforded in the Palace, but seeks to profit by the lessons its abundant illustrations of art and science are so well adapted to inculcate.
    The manufacturer and the mechanical, as well as the student of the industrial resources and capabilities of various nations, will turn with avidity to the Industrial Courts: to the Ceramic, and to British Ceramic (or Pottery) Manufactures, - Fancy and Foreign Glass Mauufactures, - the Sheffield Court, - the Birmingham, Stationery, and Canadian Courts. Machinery in motion; basket-carriages and broughams; locomotives, pumps, and washing-machines; the cotton-loom and the printing-press; the myriad products of ingenuity and invention stimulated by the wants or luxuries of mankind - these, too, will in their turn excite our curiosity and reward our investigation.
    Then there is the noble collection of tropical plants and ferns in the north transept, and tropical birds and reptiles, and things both strange and rare from Oriental lands, to be wondered at; and the Mammoth Tree from California, 400 ft. high in its original state, and about 4000 years old; and the Naval Museum; models of bridges and viaducts, and other engineering successes; the new Picture Gallery, occasionally containing some good examples of English art; the Industrial and Technological Museum; the Photographical Collection; Osler's Crystal Fountain, originally erected in the Industrial Exhibition of 1851; the Fountains at the end of the nave, designed by Monti; the Great Orchestra, accommodating 4000 performers; Gray and Davison's Grand Organ, with its 60 stops, and 4568 sounding pipes; objects of art and vertu - the utilities and luxuries of modern social life: a curious and brilliant world - a very microcosm, or miniature of the actual world which Trade and Commerce, Enterprise and Invention, brighten and enrich - is here laid bare before the curious investigator. Nor do the directors of the Crystal Palace fail to appeal to our love of pleasure and excitement. Opera concerts and Blondin performances; archery and cricket; great Handel festivals and monster musical fetes; and especially the weekly concerts, conducted with so much taste and skill by Herr Augustus Manns, contribute to the amusement of the elite, as well as of the ubiquitous "Million."
    The Refreshment Department is vigorously conducted by the present contractor, and distinct tariffs are intended to accommodate the pockets of the various classes of visitors. Dinners, from 1s. to 5s. per head; shilling teas; cold collations, luncheons, &c., are provided in great variety; and the bon vivant may enjoy his entremets and patés, while the third-class excursionist is content with "bread and cheese, and a pint of porter."
    Some excellent hotels-  especially the Queen's, South Norwood, and Masters', Crystal Palace- and numerous lodging-houses, at widely differing rates, may be found in the vicinity of the Palace. The neighbourhood is remarkable for its healthy air and glowing landscapes.
    The Literary Department, which comprises classes for the study of modern languages, lectures upon art, a reading-room, and library, is under the direction of A. K. Shenton, Esq.
General Manager: Mr. R. Bowley. Musical Director: Augustus Manns, Esq.
Chairman of the Crystal Palace Company: A. Anderson, Esq. Secretary: G. Grove, Esq. Offices: 3 Adelaide Place, London Bridge, E.C.

source: Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

Several following years of early childhood were spent at Norwood, with the Crystal Palace as an entrancing playground. In the early ‘seventies the place was rich with the scent of the beds for tropical vegetation, stale buns, and new paint; and in the more rapturous end— where the parrots were kept—came unmistakable gusts and shrieks from the monkey-house, entrancing to the infantile mind, but deemed unhealthy and too exciting by parents and governess alike. The Crystal Palace was at that time a paradise for children, and one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world (this I knew later); it was also the home of music in England of that decade, with daily concerts, a small local opera, crashing brass bands, a mammoth organ, great Saturday classical concerts, and huge Handel Festivals. The place was not only full of appeals to the imagination, from the toy stalls to great intimidating groups of statuary, it was a world full of sound. The loud strains of a symphony might burst from the closed concert-room, interrupting the musical whiz and purring of a top spun by a toy-stall assistant; simultaneously would come the scarlet cries of a cockatoo and the persistent cadences of a popular valse played by a mechanical piano, and, most delightful of all, the tinny sounds of clockwork toys, which moved if a penny were dropped into them by an indulgent elder. Thereupon glass waterfalls would trickle in landscapes of Virginian cork; whilst a train with cotton-wool smoke, darted over a Lilliputian bridge, and small Swiss peasants valsed, all too briefly, to the sound of a tired musical box.

source: Charles Ricketts, Self-Portrait, 1866

see also Richard Rowe in Life in the London Streets - click here


Open from Monday to Friday inclusive, on payment of 6d. on Monday, and of 1s. on the other days. On Saturday the price of admission is 2s. 6d., except during the months of August and September, when it is a shilling. Children under twelve half price. Non-transferable season tickets, admitting for a whole year, are issued at one guinea each person, with numerous privileges, such as the special concerts, etc. Tickets may be obtained at the Crystal Palace Office, near the Central Transept Entrance ; at the offices of the London and Brighton Railway Company, London Bridge; at the Victoria Station, Pimlico; at the Central Ticket Office, 2 Exeter Hall, Strand; and at various other places in London. Persons not holding tickets may either pay at the entrance to the Palace, or at the railway stations on paying their fare. Much more detailed information than can be given here will be found in the Shilling Official General Guide, illustrated with plans and views, sold at the railway stations and in the Palace.
    The Crystal Palace may now be reached from all parts of London by rail; junctions having been made between the Brighton and the North London, and other railways; and between the London, Chatham, and Dover, and the North-Western, Great-Eastern, and Great-Western systems. The high- level line from Ludgate Hill carries the visitor direct to the doors of the Palace. In the summer the trip by road is also very picturesque.
    The Crystal Palace is seen from far, crowning Sydenham Hill with a structure of glittering glass, held together by iron. It owes its origin to the Exhibition building of 1851, a structure of the same materials, and both designed by the late Sir Joseph Paxton, M.P. A joint-stock company, promoted by a number of gentlemen who believed that a permanent edifice might be of great service in furthering the education of the people, and affording them a large amount of innocent recreation at a cheap rate, purchased an estate which now comprehends about 200 acres, erected the buildings, and laid out the gardens, at an expense of nearly two millions sterling-a sum very much beyond that originally contemplated. The main building is 1608 feet long, with a width throughout the nave of 312 feet, increased to 384 feet at the central transept. A striking feature of the interior is its great height, the nave rising to the height of 110 feet above the ground floor; the central trausept to the height of 74 feet. Two spacious galleries extend at each side of the nave throughout its entire length, and round each end. From a distance the two towers, 284 feet high, are conspicuous objects. These can be ascended by a spiral staircase, and their roofs command, as may be imagined, a splendid view of the country, extending into six counties. They serve the double purpose of carrying off the smoke of the fires which heat the building, and of maintaining in tanks at their summits a supply of water for the high jets of the great fountains. Railway visitors alight at one of two covered stations, either at a wing leading to the south end of the main building or at the centre of the latter on the high level. The north wing, destroyed by fire and storm in 1861, has been partly rebuilt.
    On entering the palace for the first time, the visitor is is commended to place himself at one end of the building, for the purpose of obtaining a view along the entire nave. He will be much struck by the length and height of the structure, its light and elegant appearance, the floods of daylight that pour in from all sides, the distant statues, the baskets of flowers suspended from the galleries, the green healthy plants growing on the level of the floor, and the large marble tanks, rendered gay by bright blossoms and beautiful ferns.
    Then, with the view of taking things in detail, let him, after glancing at the screen of the kings and queens, turn to the left, and, passing the Crystal Fountain, make his way to the Pompeian Court, where he will see reproduced a house such as a well-to-do inhabitant of Pompeii resided in at the time Vesuvius potted it for posterity. Enter the court or atrium, with its tank in the middle, and observe the miserably small dens set apart for sleeping in. Into the ambulatory beyond, the dining-rooms, chief bed-chamber, and other apartments opened. In the middle is a small garden, and between this garden and the atrium is the tablinum, where were deposited the ornaments of the house.
    We may then pass in succession through the Sheffield, Birmingham, and Stationery Courts, all elegantly and appropriately decorated and filled with objects displayed in cases or on stalls. works for the most part appertaining to the useful arts. Issuing from the last named court we find ourselves in the central transept, at the foot of a flight of stairs leading to the western gallery. Over against these stairs is the Concert Room, where there is a daily performance of good music. At the west end of the great transept are the organ and grand orchestra, in which oratorios are executed. Behind is the main carriage-entrance from the road.
    Now let us enter the Egyptian Court, with lions couchant keeping guard. The architecture is characterised by massive solidity, and the examples here given, selected from various temples and tombs, fully conveys that idea. Two courts are separated by a hail of columns, modelled from those at Karnak. The colouring is taken from actual remains in Egypt, and all the hieroglyphics have their meaning.
    In the Greek Court the style is marked by far more elegance and symmetry. Models of temples, and sculptures copied from the finest remains of Greek art, are placed in the central court. The light colouring of this court is supposed to be justified by ancient examples. In the gallery beyond the pillared walk, at the back of this court, a copy of the frieze of the Parthenon has been placed, and this has been coloured, the tints employed being however purely conjectural. Here also will be seen a model of the western front of the Parthenon, about one-fourth of the size of the original ; and more statues and groups, including the famous Niobe group from Florence. This gallery is continuous with that behind the Roman Court, and we may compare the noble intellectual countenances of the Greeks with the more sensual faces of their Roman conquerors. In the court will be found copies of sculptures, all of them carved by Greeks under Roman rule, including many well-known masterpieces. The walls are coloured in imitation of the marbles with which the rich Romans were in the habit of adorning their houses. In the side court are placed the busts of generals and empresses.
The Alhambra Court, copied from the ruined Moorish palace of this name at Granada in Spain, must strike every eye by the gorgeousness of the colouring, the elaborateness of the ornamentation, and the quaint grace of the architectural style. The Court of the Lions, 75 feet long, is two-thirds the size of the original. Crossing what is here called the Hall of Justice, we enter the Hall of the Abencerrages, the reputed scene of the massacre of the Spanish family of that name, with its stalactite roof and its lateral divans.
    This is the last of the courts on the western side. Passing into the nave we may examine the plants, natives of warm regions, which are hereabouts to be found. The water plants look particularly healthy and happy. Near this stood, before being consumed by the fire, the bark from the lower part of the trunk of a Californian coniferous tree, named Wellingtonia gigantea. On its native mountains it rose to the astonishing height of nearly 400 feet, and its age has been estimated at 4000 years, that is far older than any of the ancient buildings whose copies we have been examining. Close by is the Water Barometer, 40 feet long, which was originally erected by Professor Daniel in the hail of the Royal Society's rooms, Somerset House, and has only lately been removed here. The top of the column of water may be seen from the first gallery. As the extent of its variation is twelve times greater than that of the barometrical column of mercury, it is very interesting to watch its oscillations in unsettled weather.
    The visitor may now enter the Marine Aquarium, situated at this end of the building. It is constructed on the best principles, and contains a large, perhaps the largest, collection of fishes, crustacea, and other curiosities of the deep ; all to be seen in their habits as they live.
    Some most remarkable curiosities will attract attention - the octopus, the crabs and lobsters, numerous specimens of the marine anemone, strange-looking but minute sea-horses, various examples of living coral and sponges, and some very rare specimens of fishes from distant seas, together with salmon in their several stages of growth. In addition to the above, this Aquarium contains specimens of what may be called the domestic fishes - those which are brought to market, and whose appearances are better known to us on the table than in their living state.
    Not far off the Library and Reading Room offer their resources to the visitor. There is a fair collection of books, a large supply of newspapers, British and foreign, materials for writing letters, a postage box, etc. To non-subscribers the charge of one penny is made for admission
    Let us now enter the Byzantine Court by the middle of the three arches which communicate with the north transept, and turning to the right pass along the copy of a cloister, the original of which is at Cologne. The roof is decorated with Byzantine ornament in imitation of glass mosaic work. In the middle of the court is a copy of a fountain from a convent on the Rhine. Notice the Prior's doorway from Ely, in a late Norman style the curious Norman doorway with zigzag moulding from Kilpeck Church, Herefordshire; the doorway from Mayence Cathedral- the bronze doors within being from Augsburg Cathedral-the effigies, near the fountain, of Henry II. and his queen Eleanor; Richard I. and his wife Berengaria ; John, and his wife Isabella, all from ancient originals. There are many other copies of architectural subjects in this court and the adjoining vestibules which deserve attention.
    The next court is a small one, exclusively devoted to specimens of Gothic art and architecture in Germany, and hence styled the German Medieval Court, where, dividing court from vestibule, we shall see the copy of a celebrated church doorway at Nuremberg. St. George on horseback, from the cathedral square at Prague, and some tombs of bishops and others, are amongst the remarkable objects here. In the vestibule next the nave are several pieces of sculpture, some of it quaintly droll.
    Passing into the nave, and proceeding to the English Medieval Court, we enter beneath a pointed arch, and find ourselves in a cloister of the Decorated period, with a doorway from Worcester Cathedral at the north end, and a doorway from Ely at the opposite end. The court itself contains many excellent examples from old churches. The rich doorway from Rochester Cathedral, leading to the vestibule, will catch the eye, and in the middle is a decorated font from Walsingham in Norfolk. Turn round and admire the arcades of the elevation towards the cloisters. Those who revel in the poetry of Gothic architecture will find much to delight them in the doorways, tombs, niches, and canopies placed before them here.
    We now arrive at the French and Italian Medieval Court, the details of which have been furnished by various foreign churches, much being taken from Notre Dame at Paris. The statue on the floor, and the subject towards the nave, are Italian.
    The rich elaborateness of the Renaissance Court will fascinate the most careless eye. The facade towards the nave, copied from a mansion at Rouen, built at the beginning of the sixteenth century, is highly attractive. In the centre of the court is a fountain from a French chateau, and two bronze wells from the ducal palace at Venice, arranged as fountain basins. Amongst the numerous charming things, notice the copy of the Baptistery gates from Florence, so famous in art; the cinque-cento doorways from the Doria palace, Genoa; one with five bas-reliefs from the Florence museum, above it; various compositions of cinque-cento work on the back wall; the Louvre caryatides supporting Benvenuto Cellini's nymph of Fontainebleau; a part of the interior of the principal entrance to the Certosa at Pavia, very elaborately carved; and Donatello's two statues, St. John in marble, David in bronze. The adjoining vestibule contains the bronze monument of Lewis of Bavaria, remarkable for its finish, Pion's Graces, and many beautiful bits of the period when the Renaissance style prevailed. In the gallery behind this court is the monument of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, from Warwick, considered one of the finest Gothic monuments now existing in this country.
    The small Elizasbethan Court is indebted for its architectural details to Holland House, Kensington, mentioned elsewhere in this volume. Here are some tombs of the period, including those of Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth, and the Countess of Richmond, Henry VII.'s mother, all from Westminster Abbey. Here also is a copy of Shakspere's bust from Stratford upon Avon.
    The Italian Court succeeds and illustrates the style which the Roman nobility employed in their palaces, the Farnese palace being the type selected. Observe the statue of the Virgin and Child after Michael Angelo ; the monument of Giuliano do Medici from Florence on the south side, with the reclining figures of Night and Day on the opposite side; M. Angelo's monument of Lorenzo de Medici, likewise from Florence ; Bernini's group of the Virgin with the dead Christ; the same subject by M. Angelo; the Fountain in the centre from Rome; and the copies in the arcades from Raphael's frescoes in the Vatican. In the gallery behind, notice the painted ceilings partly after Raphael ; and Michael Angelo's Moses, the admiration of all lovers of art. In the adjoining Vestibule, next the great central transept, the decorations are copied from a mansion at Milan. On the extensive wall in the transept we shall find several interesting monuments.
    Now let us turn aside for a few minutes to survey the beautiful prospect of the gardens and. the country beyond, which is afforded by the open corridor at the end of the central transept.
    Then, recommencing our survey of the courts, we may betake ourselves to the nearest one, which contains a large collection of Fancy Manufactures, a sort of bazaar, in short, where a good deal of money is expended in the course of the year by persons desirous of carrying away with them some memorial of the Palace. We may now examine the illustrations of Natural History which are here to be found in the shape of figures representing man as he has been met with in different parts of the globe; and the stuffed animals scattered amongst beds of plants that grow in the localities from which these animals have been brought. Here are cases of birds, sponges, etc.
    Young visitors will be delighted with the Wurtemberg collection of stuffed animals-a collection as curious as they are suggestive. It is not quite impossible that the monkeys, rats, squirrels, weasels, etc., may enjoy themselves in their native wilds in something like the fashion here so artistically suggested.
    Scattered up and down the nave and transepts are many pieces of sculpture to which we have hitherto paid no attention, We shall now recommend the visitor to bend his steps down one side of the nave, examine the casts as he goes along, and on arriving at the transepts to survey each completely before proceeding As all the casts have been marked with their names it will be unnecessary here to repeat them. On arriving at the central transept look up at the Orchestra erected for the Handel Festival, and capable of accommodating 4000 performers. The organ built by Gray and Davidson for its present position, contains 66 stops, with four rows of keys. In the eastern portion of this transept is a large collection of casts from several of the most celebrated ancient and modern statues and groups; and here also is the Choragic monument of Lysicrates, often called the Lantern of Demosthenes, one of the marvels of Greek architecture. Then working our way down the nave we reach the tropical end of the building divided by glass during the cold months of the year from the rest of the building.
    At the extreme north end of the building are some colonial and other collections worthy of notice. One is of the products of Tasmania, another comes from Egypt. Into the botany of the Palace we shall not undertake to enter, partly because all the plants have been labelled with their names, but chiefly because to give even a short account of the interesting collection would occupy more space than we can command.
The Galleries, however, must not be passed by. In the gallery over the Stationery Court, and the other courts on that side, is a large collection of oil paintings, and the stairs to the south of the grand orchestra will lead us to them. At the northwestern end of the central transept is deposited a collection of the staple and manufacturing products of Canada. Passing through the Picture Gallery we shall arrive at a series of stalls where a great variety of articles are exposed for sale, and continuing our course we work round to the garden end of the central transept. Climbing the spiral staircase we reach a gallery above, where is deposited the Industrial Museum and Technological Collection, illustrating our manufactures by the exhibition of the various materials employed therein. There are a vegetable, a mineral, non-metallic, a metallic, and an animal series, all deserving examination on the part of those who desire enlightenment as to the numerous articles with which the productive labourers of this country deal.
    Descending into the body of the building, we may cross the great central transept, and seek the stairs that lead down to the basement floor, which is on a level with the first terrace. Here we shall find a large collection of agricultural implements, and a number of manufacturing machines in motion, including cotton spinning machinery, steam engines, pumps, etc.
    Having gratified his artistic sense in Picture Galleries and the Fine Art Courts; having listened to the music of the Grand Organ, or been amused at the Theatre, the visitor may perhaps like to vary his enjoyment. Let him enter the Skating Rink and take a turn upon the rolling wheels; he will find numerous companions in the full enjoyment of the exhilarating pastime, and even should he. attempt the roller skate for the first time, he will obtain ample instruction from careful and skilled attendants. Tired of this gyrating exercise he may turn his attention to the more active pastime of lawn-tennis. In truth, it is difficult to enumerate all the sources of pleasure at the command of the visitor, not to mention those of the refreshment department.
    Let us now leave the building for the gardens. The first terrace is 1576 feet long, by 48 feet wide ; on its parapet are placed 26 allegorical marble statues, intended to represent important countries and industrial cities. Descending the flight of steps, 96 feet wide, we reach the lower terrace 1664 feet long, and 512 feet wide, affording a beautiful promenade, adorned by the six upper fountains, and by beds of flowers. The chief features of the picturesque grounds are the broad central walk, 96 feet wide, and 2660 feet long; the arcade of iron trellis work, and the rosery around, placed on a mound; the two grand fountain basins with the stone arcades; and the lake at the bottom of the gardens, with restorations of extinct animals upon its islands. These restorations are intended to give as accurate a notion as can now be formed of those animals, whose bony remains have been found fossilized in various ancient strata, the Hylaeosaurus, Megalosaurus, Tclithyosaurus, and other monsters, with forms as ugly as their names, which lived in lakes and swamps in the age of reptiles. Near at hand are some illustrations of geology, ingeniously designed to explain the succession of rocks in the crust of the earth, and the principal geological phenomena. In other parts of the gardens are a rifle ground, a cricket field, and an archery ground.
    THE FOUNTAINS, which constitute a great attraction in the grounds, are in two series. The six fountains of the upper series, which are upon the lower terrace, throw their water to the height of 90 feet, whilst minor jets play round the bases of the principal one. Then there is a great circular fountain in the middle of the central walk, which can throw a jet of 150 feet in height, whilst many other jets are playing around. On each side is a smaller basin. These nine fountains comprise the upper series. Below are two water temples 60 feet high, placed at the head of a cascade on each side of the broad walk. Below these again are the great fountains, which throw a central column to the height of 280 feet, with a great number of jets around them. The effect of the display of the whole system of fountains is very striking, but of course this occurs but seldom, and on special occasions, for a grand display consumes about six millions of gallons, 120,000 gallons being thrown in a minute, through 11,788 jets. It may be well to state here that the lofty towers, 284 feet high, one of which stands at each end of the palace, are of cast iron, and each contains 800 tons of that metal. They need to be strongly built, for they hold when full, a body of water weighing 1576 tons. The water is obtained by means of an artesian well 575 feet deep, which penetrates the London clay to the greensand below. This well, which is at the bottom of the garden, is a brick shaft 8.5 feet in diameter, for the first 247 feet; the remaining part is an artesian bore. Steam-engines of 320 horse power are employed to force the water into the garden basins and the tower-tanks. The pipes which convey the water, and by which a great part of the garden is tunnelled, weigh about 4000 tons, and are ten miles in length.
    REFRESHMENT DEPARTMENT.-All classes of visitors to the Crystal Palace may obtain refreshments in it at rates suited to their purses. There are private dining rooms, where first class dinners can be obtained; public dining rooms, where meals are furnished at a settled printed tariff; there are even third class rooms, where plain fare is supplied at a low charge; and lastly, stalls are scattered about the palace, where light refreshments are to be had as in a confectioner's shop. Those whose physical strength is not equal to the task of perambulating the palace, may hire bath-chairs, the stand for which is near the entrance to the building from the railways. Lifting chairs for carrying invalids from the railway station into the palace, or to the galleries, may also be procured. In short, the convenience of visitors is consulted in every possible way.
    The Portuguese have a saying to the effect, that those who have not seen Lisbon have seen nothing. In the same spirit, we may say that those who have not seen the Crystal Palace have not seen London. A thousand interesting objects have necessarily been omitted in our hasty sketch, but even if the half only of those mentioned have been examined, every visitor must admit that he has had a marvelously cheap shilling's worth of enjoyment, for he will have seen something that no other age, and no other country has been able to produce.

source: Black's Guide to London and Its Environs, (8th ed.) 1882

   Within, it is a single huge hall, a little world. At the first glance you take in nothing. From one court you pass into a café, from a café into a bazaar, from a bazaar to a garden or museum. Amongst cypresses, laurels, aloes, palms, and all the pompous plants of the Torrid Zone, giraffes stretch out their necks, and Michelangelo's statues raise their heads. From the sphinxes of an Egyptian court-yard you see in the distance a Greek house with the group of the Laocoon and the Venus of Milo. From a Greek house you enter a Roman house; here your' gaze penetrates into the mysterious little chambers of the Alhambra; and from the Alhambra you look into the court of a little Pompeian house. You go out and pass between groups of lions and tigers, fighting and biting, between two rows of eagles and parrots, and next come out in a Byzantine court, from which, through a series of doors, you see the court of a medieval house, the hall of a Renaissance palace, or the chapel of a Gothic church. You go on among sepulchral monuments, fountains, doors embellished with historical designs, and all the masterpieces of modern sculpture; and you come into the midst of a crowd at the door of a theatre, where they are playing Il Trovatore. A little beyond, on one side, you see a musical stage, seating three thousand artists, under a semi- cupola twice as large as the dome of St. Paul's, and on the other side a stage on which a professor is giving lectures on mathematics. You pass before a comic theatre, camerae-obscurae, circuses, and enter a labyrinth of grand bazaars in the forms of temples and kiosks, in which are exhibited the most splendid industrial products of all countries, from Cairo to Birmingham, and from Paris to Pekin. You run through the corridors of libraries, between long rows of piano-fortes, carriages, furniture, and vases of flowers, and you go wandering among the trees and dens of a forest peopled with savages from Africa or Oceanica, scattered on the hunt, or gathered in families about their hearths, or ambushed behind rocks in the act of shooting arrows at each other. You go up a staircase; galleries stretch endlessly away before you, where you can walk miles among oil paintings, water colors, photographs, and busts of celebrated men. And above these, more galleries with a thousand turns, from which on looking out you take in at a glance the beautiful landscape of the county of Kent, and looking below, all that fantastic circuit of halls, gardens, courts, theatres, and restaurants; people going up and down, and thronging about the theatres, and appearing and disappearing among the plants and statues; and on this prodigious variety of forms, colors, and sights, of this compendium of the world, arched over by a crystal firmament, the sunlight darts in and spreads a glow over everything, throwing prismatic colors and rays and showers of silver sparks along the walls and azure arches.

source: Edmondo de Amicis, Jottings about London (trans), 1883

 HERE is one notable place which we really must not forget to visit-THE CRYSTAL PALACE. True, we have, most of us, been there more than once; but that is just the reason why we want to go again. There is so much to see in that immense enclosure that one cannot take if in all at once; and even when we have become familiar with the permanent features of the place, there are fresh additions, again and again, and good music to feast our ears with, and the beautiful building glistening like a fairy pavilion in the sunshine, and the spreading grounds to ramble in, and the flowers in bright masses and devices of many colours, and the chaffinches and redbreasts and sparrows among the trees and bushes, and - But it is time that sentence came to an end. Given a fine, sunny day, in spring, or summer, or autumn, and a nice little party of friends - boys and girls and older folk, if they are not too proud and stately to admire and enjoy the scene-and there can scarcely be a better place for a tired Londoner to pass a few happy hours than the Crystal Palace.
    I dare say you have seen pictures of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park- the building which was erected for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was designed by Mr. Paxton, who rose from being a gardener's boy to be ' Sir Joseph Paxton, M.P.' Built almost entirely of iron and glass, it had a beautiful fairy-like appearance; and though it was nearly twice the breadth and fully four times the length of St. Paul's Cathedral, covering twenty acres of ground, it had a gay, lightsome look, which was a pleasing novelty amongst our public buildings. It was opened by the Queen on May 1st, 1851, and continued open till the 11th of October. During those one hundred and forty-four days of exhibition it was visited by more than six millions of persons. And no wonder; for not only was the building itself a marvel, though run up in a few months, but the variety and value of its contents, the perfection of its arrangement, and the beauty of its vistas - especially that along the nave, or body of the building - presented a combination of attractions which the world had never before seen, and which remains as yet unrivalled.
    When the Exhibition was over, a general desire was expressed that the building should be purchased by Government, and so preserved from destruction; but this was not agreed to. A few gentlemen, however, in 1852, came to the rescue, and bought it, and had it removed to Sydenham, where it was erected, much altered and improved, on the upper part of a lovely estate of three hundred acres. When opened as our present Crystal Palace by the Queen, on June 10th, 1854, the building was found to have been greatly changed from its former self. In place of one transept there were three, and the roof of the nave had become arched, instead of being flat, and had been raised forty-four feet higher than the old one. The central transept is the great feature of the architecture, being three hundred and eighty-four feet long, one hundred and twenty wide, and one hundred and sixty-eight high; but its total height from the garden front is two hundred and eight feet-six feet, higher than the Monument.
    It would take up all my pages to give a description of all the things to be seen in this immense building and its wide-spreading grounds. All I can say to you is, ' Come and see.' Roam along the beautiful nave, and gaze on the statues, and plants, and flowers, and fountains, and works of art; turn off into those wonderful Courts-Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Medieval, &c., not forgetting the resplendent portions of the Alhambra; then traverse the picture galleries; descend to the lower regions, and watch the machinery and various processes of manufacture. But the sun is shining, and soon you will want to be out in the grounds. So out let us go, and gaze for a minute from the upper terrace on the grand prospect - trees, and water, and beds of flowers; hill and dale and verdant alley - and the rosary and water temples and panorama house. If we wander down the steps, and along the winding paths, we shall come to the upper terrace of the grand plateau, and shall have before us the lake, which has three islands in its bosom, adorned with life-size models of the fearful and gigantic animals which are supposed to have swarmed on our planet many ages ago. Then, if we pass on to the rustic bridge, we shall see an excellent representation of the strata between which that grand English necessary, coal, is found. It is worth looking at for a few minutes; for it is not a mere painted model, but is constructed of several thousand tons of coal, and ironstone, and limestone, and red sandstone, old and new.

source: Uncle Jonathan, Walks in and Around London, 1895 (3 ed.)

CRYSTAL PALACE, SYDENHAM. Modern pictures and sculpture. 1s. Trains from Victoria, Ludgate Hill and London Bridge.

source: Reynolds' Shilling Coloured Map of London, 1895

CRYSTAL PALACE PARK, SYDENHAM. Open daily, 1s; on Saturdays 2s. 6d. Trains from Victoria, Ludgate and London Bridge Stations.

source: Reynolds' Shilling Coloured Map of London, 1895


Built of the materials that housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, the Crystal Palace at Sydenham cost no less than a million and a half sterling. It is composed entirely of glass and iron, and was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton. The Palace from its lofty eminence is visible for miles in every direction. Its principal hall, or nave, is 1,608 feet long, while the central transept is 390 feet long by 120 feet broad, and rises to a height of 175 feet. On either side of the Palace are the water towers, each 282 feet high, and these add greatly to the general effect, best appreciated from the delightful grounds, which cover in all some 200 acres. Our view shows the Upper Terrace, the Central Transept, and the northern Water Tower.

source: The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896


Owing to the circumstance that the Handel Festival is always held at the Crystal Palace, the orchestra in the central transept of the Palace of Glass is known as the Handel Orchestra. It can accommodate no fewer than 4,000 persons. The dimensions of the transept, which has a diameter twice as great as that of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, can only be realised when it is crowded, as in onr picture, which shows in progress the great temperance fete that is held at the Crystal Palace every year. The organ, which is supplied with air by hydraulic machinery, boasts 4384 pipes, and cost £6,000. The acoustic properties of the building are admirable for large volumes of sound.

source: The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896


Paxton's great building at Sydenham is admirably adapted for big exhibitions such as the annual Dog Show of the Kennel Club. The animals are benched all along the nave, which is 1,608 feet long; and even this space is insufficient for all the competitors, while there is plenty of room in the Central Transept for the judges rings, one of which is shown in our picture. Moreover, the Palace is light and airy, and the barking of the dogs is not so deafening here as in smaller buildings. To these shows the best bred dogs in the country are sent, of almost every known variety, and to win a prize in such company is praise indeed. The Kennel Club, which was founded in 1874, has much the same authority in the "doggy world" that the Jockey Club exercises on the Turf.

source: The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896


Football has become so popular with all classes of the community that the Crystal Palace authorities were well advised in laying out a part of the fine gardens at Sydenham as a football ground. The lake was filled in for this purpose and, from the spectators' point of view, there is not a finer ground in the country. It is estimated that sixty thousand persons can obtain an uninterrupted view of the game; and the accommodation in the covered stands and on the rising ground is all that could be desired. Our picture shows in progress the final tie for the Football Association Cup in the 1894-5 season. This match, the most exciting of the year under the Association rules, was won by Aston Villa, who defeated the West Bromwich Albion eleven by a goal to nothing

source: The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896



    I SUPPOSE that the myriads of little folk scattered throughout the great House of Glass at Sydenham, and in the gardens thereof, have been here since early in the forenoon; but it was five o'clock ere we could get away from work, and enjoy one of the most delightful drives of which I am aware - that from London, through Brixton and Dulwich, to Norwood. Apparently, some hundreds - it may be thousands - of boys and girls have just finished some grand musical performance; since we watch them streaming down the degrees of the great orchestra; and in another part of the palace there is a gymnastic contest going on, the view of which, however, to a late corner, is barred by serried ranks of anxious, yet delighted, fathers and mothers, who are watching the exploits in calisthenics of their small offspring.
    Now and again you catch a glimpse of a youth in cricketing flannels, or of a tiny maiden in a blouse and knickerbockers, performing some athletic feat, which, so far as I am concerned, I am perfectly certain I was never able to do. But I am delighted to see that [-149-] gymnastic, and almost acrobatic, training is making so much headway in the education of girls.
    Such training will conduce towards making them healthy and strong; and as I have always been a fervent advocate of woman's rights, it strikes me that, during the next generation or so, what remaining rights women have to secure, will be much more easily obtained, if the women themselves have not only the mind but also the muscle wherewith to demand justice. It will not be easy to trample on the sex when they have become physically strong enough to take you by the scruff of the neck if you argue with them, or give you "one in the eye" if you refuse them the Parliamentary franchise.
    It is a sight, and a most exhilarating one, to see these troops of children, from little dots of four and five in sun-bonnets, to big girls of twelve and fourteen with their hair down their backs, or twisted into those pig-tails which were fashionable when Charles Dickens was writing Pickwick more than fifty years ago, and which - as is the case with most fashions - have recently come into vogue again. It was as delightful to contemplate the merry, round-faced, chubby boys, the smaller ones in those knickerbockers, the origin of which, as an article of small boys' wear, has yet to be cleared up.
    So far as I can make out, knickerbockers have not an American origin, in the sense of the garment having been devised by an American tailor; and, if my remembrance serves me correctly, it was an English [-150-] lady, writing to the Times, some six-and-thirty years ago, who stated, that she had made for her little boy some very neat and cosy galligaskins out of a pair of old trousers belonging to her husband. She had given, she added, the name of "knickerbockers" to these garments, because she had been looking at George Cruikshank's illustrations to Diedrich Knickerbocker's - that is to say, Washington Irving's - History of New York, in which George has depicted divers Dutch worthies arrayed in prodigiously voluminous breeches. Even at present there is an old Manhattan family in New York who bear the highly suggestive name of Ten Brock.
    To behold the youngsters at tea was likewise a joy. The quantities of bread and butter they put away; the cups of tea and cocoa and milk and water they consumed; the numbers of buns and slices of plum-cake they contrived to dispose of filled me not only with delight, but with bewilderment. The staying powers of those little boys and girls demolishing their holiday grub, reminded me of a little white Pomeranian dog of which, for at least a dozen years, I was the proud possessor. He had during his long career several names. Sometimes, I believe he was called Tradelli, at others Dr. Biggs; sometimes he was Bismarck, and occasionally Hobson Jobson. His real appellation, I believe, was Ivan the Terrible, and when he came to me, a puppy, his then owner triumphantly declared that he would never be big enough to fill a quart pot. He grew somewhat larger than that measure of capacity; [-151-] but he was always a very diminutive bow-wow. He had fought every dog and bitten every child in Mecklenburg Square; but in the domestic circle he was the kindest little creature imaginable, and had clearly the heart that could feel for another. His greatest accomplishment next to begging was barking; and it often used to puzzle me how so much bark could come out of such a small dog. I brought him with me to Victoria Street, where he died of old age, and we had him buried in Hyde Park; and I will never have another dog.
    It was the sight of the children merrily "wolfing" their tea, that brought back the image of Ivan the Terrible, with his many aliases, to my mind. To be sure, the children at the Crystal Palace did not bark; but it was enrapturing to listen to their rippling laughter and chatter. When at length their repast was over, they scattered again, and went trotting about the palace, pattering with their small feet like so many armies of white mice, and then pouring out down the great staircase by the fountains into the gardens, gamboling and racing, and sliding down steep embankments, and enjoying themselves with a thoroughness of glee, that to my mind only English children can display.
    The Crystal Palace is not only a great school of artistic and technical education, and a place of varied and innocent amusement, but it is likewise the finest playground for children in the whole kingdom; and, in the interests of the public happiness and the [-152-] public morality, it ought to have a handsome endowment from the State. It is wicked and nonsensical to assert that private enterprise, and private enterprise alone, should be the purveyor of amusement to the people. It is idle, wicked, and mendacious into the bargain, to say that the State cannot afford to endow such a thoroughly national institution as the Crystal Palace. How many thousand pounds a year do we blow away in gunpowder on Woolwich Common, or on Southsea Beach? How many thousands more have we recently spent on torpedoes - beshrew their murderous name! - which are being tested, and turn out to be utterly worthless?
    You are not to think that these legions of little ones were destitute of adult guides, philosophers, and friends; or that they were allowed to wander about the palace and grounds at their own sweet wills, or revel entirely in their own devices in the way of play. When we had had our own dinner, and I came out into the garden about eight o'clock to smoke a cigar, the children in regiments, in battalions, in squadrons and platoons, were being marshalled and formed in line for the purpose of merrily marching them towards the entrance leading to the railway stations; or, rather might they be likened to so many flocks of sheep under the guardianship of careful shepherds and shepherdesses, who, with walking-sticks and umbrellas in lieu of crooks, were collecting the lambs and gently gathering up those who were straying; and who, although to the stranger the children might have been at tea-time, or [-153-] at their games, even as "forty feeding like one," were evidently familiar with the faces of every one of their young charges. It was growing dusk ere the last flock had got well on their way out of the palace; but, in the remote distance, one could hear their shrill cheering as they entered the carriages which were to take them home, a little tired perhaps, but ah, so happy!
    As to ourselves, we lingered in the palace grounds till the dusk had deepened into night; and driving home through the green lanes, one of our companions, a lady, undertook to count the couples of sweethearts whom we encountered placidly strolling along in the moonlight. She left off at a hundred and eighty-seven, by which time we were in sight of the late Bon Marché, Brixton. After that there were no more sweethearts; there were only the blazing gas, and the blinding electric light, and the striving, palpitating crowds, filling the streets of Nineveh, that Great City.
    No sweethearting couples did I count; for all the time that I had passed at the Crystal Palace, and all the way home, I had been thinking of the magnificent Pleasure Dome, which the genius of Joseph Paxton imagined, and which the will of the nation, guided by the counsel of the wise and good Prince Consort, decreed. I witnessed the opening of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park by Her Majesty the Queen; and I can see her in the mirror of my memory now, with the Prince Consort, in a Field Marshal's uniform, by her [-154-] side. With her, also, were the little Princess, eleven years old, who is now the Empress Frederick of Germany, and a little boy a year younger arrayed in Highland dress, and who is Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. I can see the Archbishop of Canterbury in lawn sleeves pronouncing the benediction on the enterprise that day inaugurated; and then the Sovereign, with her Consort and her children, followed by the Primate, the Lord Chancellor, and the Judges, and a host of great officers of State, courtiers, diplomatists, Exhibition commissioners, and committee-men, made the circuit of the entire building; the route being kept by the Yeomen of the Guard, with their glittering halberts, and the Royal trumpeters meanwhile blaring out joyous fanfares from their silver trumpets.
    You know that when the Great Exhibition of '51 had run its marvellous and unprecedented course, notwithstanding the bitter opposition of good old cranky Colonel Sibthorpe, who was continually thanking Providence that he had never entered "the bazaar full of rubbish," the Crystal Palace was somehow or another transported to a site near Upper Norwood, which, although not actually in Sydenham, the greater part being in Lambeth parish, is always considered to belong to Sydenham. How they got the thousands of tons of iron, and the thousands upon thousands of panes of glass, to Sydenham Hill, there is no room here to describe, if indeed I could tell the tale. I only know that the thing was done; and that visiting the works in progress at Sydenham sometime in 1853, I wrote in [-155-] Household Words an article entitled, "Fairy Land in 54," pointing out what would be the chief attractions in the palace and grounds, then rapidly approaching completion.
    Perhaps after all that which was, humanly speaking, a fairy structure, was brought from Hyde Park to Sydenham on a magician's carpet; but whether that was the case, or whether the thousands of tons of iron and glass were conveyed to Sydenham in balloons, or in Pickford's or Carter-Paterson's vans, there stands the palace, the rebuilding of which I watched just as I had done its original edification in London. The party which visited the fairyland that was to be, and which left London on a murky late October day, comprised Sir Joseph Paxton himself; Mr. William Henry Wills, the assistant editor of Household Words; the famous dramatist, essayist, and wit, Douglas Jerrold; Mark Lemon, the editor of Punch; Owen Jones, the decorative architect, and author of The Grammar of Ornament; Charles Knight, of Penny Cyc1opaedia, History of England, and Shakespearian Commentary's fame, and your humble servant, with the exception of whom, not one of that merry band of pilgrims to Sydenham survives. We tramped manfully for a good two hours through the stiff soil from which was rising a structure more wonderful even than its forerunner; but I fail to remember the hotel at which we afterwards dined. Possibly it was a humble village inn at Beulah Spa-   for the transformation of Sydenham, Anerley, and Upper Norwood into a handsome suburban city, as [-156-] beautiful and as smiling perhaps as one of those twenty-two cities which once glorified the now desolate Campagna of Rome, had not then been begun.
    Still, the hill to be crowned by the palace and grounds commanded a prospect which, if it did not equal in sublimity that of the hills which girdle Rome, yet possessed features of unequalled loveliness in richly wooded and softly undulating plains, rising at last to the distant acclivities of Kent and Surrey. I was at the opening of the palace in 1854; but ere that pageant took place, I dined as a guest of the distinguished comparative anatomist, Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, in the interior of the model of some gigantic Saurian, on a margin of the lake, where also were to be seen other life-sized models of the former gigantic inhabitants of the earth. I cannot remember whether it was in the stomach of the Iguanodon, or in that of the Malaeotherium, the Anoplotherium, the Plesiosaurus, or the Megatherium, that we feasted; but we did hold a very joyous banquet in an improvised dining-room not much larger than the cabin of a small yacht.
    Another exceptional dinner that I partook of within the walls of the palace itself was about a year after it had been opened. Shareholders did not then enjoy the privilege of visiting the palace on Sundays; but I happened to know one of the early Directors of the Company. I was one of a small party of his personal friends who went down to the palace one Sunday afternoon and dined in the Alhambra Court. We squatted on our hams a la Turc round the Fountain [-157-] of the Lions, and the bill of fare comprised pillafs and kibabs, which we pretended to like and didn't; and then we proceeded to the terrace to enjoy narghilés and chibouks, and pretended to like the Latakia tobacco and the thick grouty Mocha coffee which accompanied the pipes ; but I am afraid we liked those post-prandial refreshments no more than we had done our pillafs and kibabs.
    You very rarely see a narghilé, which is the Turkish equivalent for the Indian hookah in Constantinople, in the present day. It has been dethroned by the cigarette ; and, indeed, the last time that I was in the Levant it was not until the steamer touched at the Greek island of Syra, where we spent a few hours, that I could manage to obtain at the café a narghilé on which to experiment. The pipe had to be "cooked," or preliminarily smoked, in the kitchen before it was brought up to me, for, to the Oriental mind, no Frank is capable of drawing the first twenty puffs through the glass reservoir, filled with rose water, and so, through many convolutions, through the amber mouthpiece between his lips.
    Some weeks afterwards, however, I did manage to purchase a narghilé in the Bezesteen at Stamboul; and taking it to the house of my dear friend-now, alas! deceased, - Eugene Schuyler, who was at the time Consul-General of the United States at the Sublime Porte, we had a narghilé séance. It was scarcely a success, and I speedily abandoned my own hookah for a cigar. Schuyler managed his narghilé, with that [-158-] phlegmatic determination worthy of a member of an ancient Dutch long - piped smoking family. An American friend of his, who had come to Turkey for the purpose of studying early Byzantine architecture, and who was so venturous as to struggle with the old-fashioned Turkish pipe, had an experience of it not altogether agreeable. He had been drawing away at a narghilé for about a minute and a half, when we noticed that his countenance grew first very yellow, then very green, and then very white. "How do you like it?" we asked. "Oh !" he replied, in a very faint voice, and with many gasps, "it is delicious; it is ethereal-it's heavenly - it's - I don't think I shall live five minutes;" and he tumbled off the divan on to the carpet in a dead faint. To be quite Oriental, our friend had swallowed the smoke, which we had to press and pummel and knead out of him in spirals issuing from his nostrils and his mouth, and, as I thought, from his eyes and his ears. We got him round at last, by the administration of a liquid a little stronger than sherbet; but he declared that that particular narghilé the first that he had ever tried to smoke, should likewise be the last. In all probability he kept his word.

source: George Augustus Sala London Up to Date, 1895
"Five P.M. : A Children's Festival at the Crystal Palace"

source: Souvenir of London (Peter Robinson Ltd, Oxford Street) [no date]

see also A.R.Bennett in London and Londoners - click here