Celebrating London theatres 8: the ‘H’s

Welcome to today’s post in the Celebrating London Theatres series. Today it is the turn of venues heginning with “H”.

Hackney Empire

Built in 1901 as a music hall, and close to Hackney Central station, the Grade II* listed Empire is one of London’s few remaining houses designed by Frank Matcham.

Out of circulation as a theatre for thirty years between 1956-1986, when it was used for television production (for ATV) and then bingo, the Hackney Empire is now a venue for visiting productions and is owned by the Hackney Empire Trust.

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Half Moon

The Half Moon Theatre in Limehouse is the UK’s leading small-scale young people’s venue and touring company. It first opened in a disused synagogue in Whitechapel and outgrew three sites in the area before closure in 1990. The current theatre is seperate to the original company.

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Comprising two theatres, Upstairs and Downstairs, the Hampstead Theatre next to Swiss Cottage station opened in 2003 in its present location, but has existed in various forms since 1959.

Its current artistic director is Roxana Silbert. The theatre is well-known for starting the careers of many playwrights including Mike Bartlett, Terry Johnson, Hanif Kureshi and Philip Ridley.

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Harold Pinter

The Harold Pinter is a West End theatre which was known as the Comedy until 2011, when it was renamed in honour of the British playwright.

Opened in 1881, it has three tiers of horseshoe-shaped balconies, giving some interesting sightlines, and is a Grade II listed venue owned by ATG.

It is located on Panton Street in Westminster. In the 1950s it was notable for presenting plays which had not received approval from the Lord Chamberlain’s office by creating “The New Watergate Club”.

Hen and Chickens

Hen and Chickens is a 54-seat venue situated above the pub of the same name on Highbury Corner in Islington. Opened in 1999, it presents a range of shows each year including a fortnight of Edinburgh previews. It is managed by Felicity Wren.

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Her Majesty’s Theatre

West End venue Her Majesty’s Theatre is the long-term home of the musical The Phantom of the Opera, which opened there in 1986. Located on Haymarket, the present theatre opened in 1897. Actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm-Tree founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) there.

The theatre itself on this site dates back to 1705, and its name traditionally changes with the sex of the monarch. It is leased from the Crown Estate by LW Theatres.


The Hope Theatre on Upper Street in Islington is based above the Hope & Anchor pub, and opened in 2013. Its current artistic director is Kennedy Bloomer, and the theatre markets itself as “the little theatre with big ideas”.

The Hope was the first small fringe theatre in London to commit to paying Equity-agreed rates to all its workers.

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Horse Hospital

The Horse Hospital is an arts centre in Bloomsbury and has been open since 1993, “providing space for underground and avantgarde media”. As the name suggests, the building dates from the 18th century as a stable for sick cab horses.

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Hounslow Arts Centre

Established in 2015 and taking over the tenure of the Paul Robeson Theatre (opened 1988), the Hounslow Arts Centre is located inside the Treaty Shopping Centre. Performances take place in the theatre, the dance studio and the presentation space.

Owned by Hounslow Arts Centre Ltd, the venue was upgraded during 2019 and completed a successful run of its pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk earlier this year.

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Hoxton Hall

Hoxton Hall opened in Shoreditch in 1863 as MacDonald’s Hall, and has passed through a variety of names. Now Grade II* listed, it is an “unrestored example in the saloon style” of the music hall, and has been owned by Quaker organisation the Bedford Institute.

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Join me tomorrow to celebrate London spaces beginning with “I”!