The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 50 Dulwich and The Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

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The Crystal Palace. STATIONS. Crystal Palace (Low Level Station), on the Southern Railway from Victoria or London Bridge; trains every + hour in 25-30 minutes (1/6, 10+d.). Crystal Palace (High Level Station), on the Southern Railway from Holborn Viaduct or St. Paul's; less frequent trains (same fares). The former station faces the main entrance of the Palace; the latter is connected with the south-east entrance by a covered way. OMNIBUSES Nos. 2A, 2B, 3, 49 ply to the main entrance (circa 1 hour from Central London). ADMISSION. The Palace and grounds are open on week-days from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m. (admission 1/2); on Thursday in autumn, when firework displays are given, and on other special occasions, 2/. There are various sideshows for which a small extra charge is made (3d.-1/). Purchasers of cinema tickets may, as a rule, view the palace and its gardens. Programme issued weekly. On firework nights return tickets (8/), including admission to the Palace, are issued at the central London stations of the Southern Railway. There is a RESTAURANT (open on firework nights) on the east side of the south nave (BAY L), and there are cafes and refreshment bars at other points. Wheel Chairs may be hired. The Crystal Palace, a huge edifice of glass and iron, at Sydenham, 6 miles to the south of London Bridge, is a reconstruction of the large hall designed by Sir Joseph Paxton for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. It was opened in 1854; the total cost (including the gardens) was over �1,500,000. The architectural courts, casts, etc., were intended to blend instruction with the amusement provided by side-shows, exhibitions, concerts, organ recitals, gorgeous firework-displays, and other attractions, and the palace enjoyed a long period of popularity. In 1913, however, it had ceased to be a paying concern, and it was purchased by subscription on behoof of the public and vested in trustees, under whom, since the War, most of its former activities have been resumed. During the War it was occupied by the Admiralty for the training of the Royal Naval Division ('H.M.S. Crystal Palace'), in 1919 it was used as a demobilization station, and in 1920-23 it housed the Imperial War Museum. The PALACE consists of a great central hall or nave, about 1600 feet in length, with aisles and two transepts. At either end is a water-tower, 282 feet high; View from the North Tower (lift 6d., children 4d.; stair 3d. and 2d.; closed October-Easter). In the South Transept (310 feet long, 70 feet wide, 110 feet high) is the Crystal Fountain, transferred from the exhibition in Hyde Park. The Central Transept is 390 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 175 feet high. Here, on the left, is the vast Handel Orchestra (4000 seats), with the great organ, built by Gray and Davison (4 manuals, 74 stops, 4598 pipes); on the right are a cinema-theatre (6d., 9d., 1/3, 1/10) and a dance hall (dancing, Saturday 7.30 p.m., 1/6). Flanking the north part of the great nave, on both sides, is a series of Courts, originally constructed, arranged, and decorated to illustrate the architecture and sculpture of various nations and periods: Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Mediᄉval, Gothic, and Moorish. They still contain some interesting and valuable casts, not always in their appropriate surroundings or in their pristine freshness, and a collection of stuffed animals. The Crystal Palace concerts, under the direction of Sir August Manns (died 1907) from 1855, warmly supported by Sir George Grove, were long among the chief musical events of London and did good service not only by performing the works of the great masters, but also by introducing to the public many meritorious English composers and musicians. The triennial Handel Festivals are especially famous and attract large crowds. Besides special concerts, which are advertised in the newspapers, organ recitals are given several times daily on the great organ and military bands play in the centre transept or the gardens. The fine GARDENS (200 acres) are laid out in terraces and are embellished with flower-beds and fountains. The highest terrace (view) is adorned with statues. Several pavilions of the Empire Exhibition of 1911 have been left standing; and the other permanent attractions include a Maze (3d.) and a Captive Flying Machine (6d.). There are various sports grounds in the lower part of the gardens; and the final cup-tie of the Football Association used to be decided here before the War. Near the boating lake (boat 2/ per hour for 1-2 persons), in the south-east angle, are full-sized models of prehistoric monsters and a large model of the contemporary geological formations.