Description: Royal Hall
Date Listed: 4 February 1975
English Heritage Building ID: 329951
OS Grid Reference: SE2999455588
OS Grid Coordinates: 429994, 455588
Latitude/Longitude: 53.9955, -1.5440
SE 2955 NE 11/166 Royal Hall (Kursaal)
SE 3055 NW 13/166
Concert Hall, 1903, by Frank Matcham and Robert Beale.
MATERIALS: squared coursed limestone rubble with ashlar dressings with slate roofs.
PLAN/EXTERIOR: It has a symmetrical central, west-facing front of seven bays in two storeys, with three entrances to either side in a central bay under a cast iron and glass portico. To either side is a three window projecting pavilion, and a lower projecting extension at the right (south). Above are Dutch gables with domed lanterns over each pavilion, and an elaborate central Dutch gable with lunette and coat of arms, and a cartouche below inscribed 'Kursaal'. The other elevations are largely hidden by later buildings, but to the rear a glazed ambulatory is partly boarded. Above this a series of hipped roofs rise over the stage areas, and there is a central large copper dome with glazing below and smaller domed turrets at the corners.
INTERIOR: The interior, recently restored, was designed by Frank Matcham and is in opulent Baroque style. The foyer to the front contains a box office (enlarged in 1916) and leads to the auditorium and promenades to either side, with the two main staircases housed in the two corner pavilions. The central auditorium is a straightforward rectangle, and has a circle and grand circle to the rear with boxes below to either side and a fairly small stage. Above is a coffered ceiling with splayed corners and a central raised section with a lantern light under the central dome. The whole is lavishly decorated with caryatids, marble pilasters, enriched plasterwork, restored painted panels and stained glass. The promenades have arched, coffered ceilings and stained glass in round-arched windows; the ambulatory to the rear of the stage has cast iron and glass screens to the exterior which have been boxed in, and the rear balcony area is closed off. There is a bar at the rear, with entirely modern fittings, and extensive lower floor and basement areas house dressing rooms, service rooms, boiler rooms and storage areas.
HISTORY: The development of Harrogate as a spa town began in the eighteenth century and by the mid nineteenth century there were a number of buildings associated with both taking the waters and the various leisure and entertainment activities that accompanied that. The idea of a kursaal came from the continent, where such complexes were normal centrepieces in spa towns, though they are rare in England. A competition to design such a building was held in 1899 and won by Robert Beale, though the eventual design was heavily modified and the interior completely designed by Frank Matcham who in practice became the senior architect in the scheme. The building was attached to the pre-existing Concert Room of 1835 and opened in 1903.
A permanent projection box was installed in 1916, as was the box office in the foyer, and the basement areas and back rooms behind the stage have been altered on a number of occasions, plans to alter the size and scope of the stage house were several times proposed but not actioned. The adjoining Concert Room was demolished in 1938, and various minor alterations took place throughout the twentieth century. The Hall continued to be used for a wide range of functions from ballet to wine tastings, but the construction of the International Conference Centre in 1982 diminished its role. By the end of the twentieth century serious defects in its construction had been identified and a major restoration project was undertaken in 2005 which was completed in 2008.
SOURCES: Harrogate International Centre: Kursaal, a History of Harrogate's Royal Hall, 2008
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The Royal Hall, Harrogate is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is a well-preserved example of the work of Frank Matcham, pre-eminent Edwardian theatre interior designer
* The internal decorative scheme has been restored to its original design to a high level of quality in materials and craftsmanship
* A number of original features survive, including the glazed, cast iron ambulatory to the rear and fibrous plasterwork in the main auditorium, as well as staircases etc
* As an entertainment complex, it is one of a very small number surviving in the country
* It is an important component of the public buildings of the spa town of Harrogate
Listing NGR: SE2999055622
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.