The ‘Eccentric’ Architecture of Stanley Arts in South London | Historic England

  • Location Stanley Arts
  • Release date 21/07/2023
  • Producer Historic England
  • Price Free
  • Ages All ages

Stanley Halls was built between 1903 and 1909 by the inventor and entrepreneur William Stanley as an entertainment venue for the community of South Norwood in South London. Today, the building is home to Stanley Arts, one of the area’s premier arts and performance venues.

William Stanley was an inventor, manufacturer and philanthropist born in Islington, London. In 1854 Stanley set up his own business in Holborn, making mathematical and drawing instruments.

With the money raised from his business, Stanley decided to build ‘a well-needed public hall’ for the local community.

As an inventor, Stanley wasn’t interested in following any architectural blueprints. The result is a building described by the architecture historian Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘one of the most eccentric efforts anywhere at a do-it-yourself free style.’

Over the years, the Stanley Halls complex has been used for various educational and cultural events. Early performances included the composers Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and William Hurlstone.

At the start of 2021, Stanley Halls was rebranded as Stanley Arts with a return to the original intention of William Stanley: a hub for local entertainment, art and culture.

True to its history, Stanley Arts particularly seeks to foreground under-represented voices, providing artists of colour and LGBTQ+ creatives with a platform to reach audiences across South London and beyond.

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© 2024 Stanley Arts Charity No: 1155680