Sunday 17 September 2023
Tours at 10am, 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 12pm, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm & 3.30pm.
FREE, access is by tour only
Each tour will last around 45mins
Community & Family
We are thrilled to once again be part of Open House Festival - the world’s largest architecture festival.
Open House Festival is a two-week celebration of London’s homes, architecture and neighbourhoods. You can get inside some of London’s best known buildings, as well as some of its best kept secrets – for free! This is the 6th year Shoreditch Town Hall has been involved in the Open House Festival, and each year has become more popular than the last with visitors.
Come along on of our Guided Tours to explore spaces that are never usually open to the public. You will learn about the architecture & design of the building, and how its use has developed over the years from a municipal building that opened in 1866 to the leading arts venue it is today.
There will be free refreshments (tea, coffee, juice, biscuits) and you’ll even have the chance to bag one of our History Book’s at a discounted price. No need to book, just turn up for a time slot. Spaces will be available for up to 20 people per slot, on a first come first served basis.
You can view the full Open House 2023 programme here.
Designed by Caesar Augustus Long and built on the site of the old Fuller’s Hospital, Shoreditch Town Hall opened in 1866. It was known as “the grandest Vestry Hall in London” owing to its high-coved ceilings, Doric columns, large chandeliers and stained glass windows. Throughout the building the council’s motto ‘More Light, More Power’ can be seen. This, together with the statue of Progress enshrined their ambition to be a progressive, forward thinking Vestry, including through the provision of electric street lighting.
From its earliest days Shoreditch Town Hall was at the heart of civic life, managing all aspects of the parish. On 12 November 1888, the Vestry (now the Council Chamber) famously held the inquest into the murder of Jack the Ripper’s last victim, Mary Kelly.
In 1902, William Hunt led a series of expansions, which included the addition of the large Assembly Hall. Following a damaging fire in 1904, the new extended Assembly Hall was opened in 1907.
Whilst upholding its municipal duties until 1965 (at which point the metropolitan boroughs of Shoreditch, Stoke Newington and Hackney, merged to become the London Borough of Hackney), the Town Hall also provided Music Hall entertainment in the Assembly Hall, packing the building with variety and music acts from across the land.
In the 1960s the Assembly Hall became one of the East End’s premier boxing venues until 1969 when, after a brutal fight against Joe Bugner, the tragic death of Trinidadian Ulric Regis led to a ban on boxing throughout Hackney.
As a result, gradually the Town Hall began to fall into disrepair, only experiencing a brief but colourful revival in the 1990s when the now infamous Whirl-Y-Gig trance nights descended on the Assembly Hall.
By the mid 1990s, with costs for maintenance spiralling, the London Borough of Hackney began to explore selling the Town Hall for commercial development. As a direct response, Shoreditch Town Hall Trust was formed in 1997 to argue the case for the building to remain in community hands.
In 2002, the Trust commissioned the first phase of a large-scale restoration of the building and following major structural renovation and restoration the building reopened in 2004.
Welcoming thousands of people through its doors every year, Shoreditch Town Hall is a leading cultural, community and live events space housed in one of the grandest former civic buildings in the capital. Comprising over 48,000 square feet across 70 individual rooms, the Grade II listed Town Hall is the largest multi-artform venue in Hackney and more widely used today than at any other point since being set up as a Charitable Trust in 1998.
The Town Hall presents a year-round cultural programme of progressive theatre, music, dance, circus and talks, as well as hosting numerous live event hires ranging from documentary film premieres to tech conferences. The Town Hall supports artists by providing in-kind space for rehearsals and R&D residencies, and a permanent Artists Workspace where creatives can take advantage of a free desk space for administrative work. The organisation collaborates with a range of local partners to deliver an extensive community and engagement programme too.
Partnering with leading UK drama school Mountview, the Town Hall house an MA in Site-Specific Theatre Practice and is also home to several local businesses including the two Michelin starred The Clove Club.
The Town Hall’s programme has recently included work with The Cocoa Butter Club, Kakilang, LIFT, London International Mime Festival, Malborough Productions, New Earth Theatre, Nouveau Riche, Oliver Sim, The PappyShow; live talks with Craig David, Elizabeth Day, Louis Theroux, Mo Gawdat, Sophie Ellis-Bextor; events with the likes of Cartier, Costa Coffee, Jazz FM, Kerrang!, Kraken Rum, Shelter, Terrence Higgins Trust; and the filming of The Death of Stalin, Florence Foster Jenkins, The Lady in the Van and Small Axe.
Shoreditch Town Hall is a registered charity (1069617) and receives no regular or revenue funding thus relying on 100% earned income every year.