With 2,359 seats this is the largest theatre in the West End and one of the most beautiful. Designed for Sir Oswald Stoll, many of the grand original features remain, including the domed auditorium ceiling and the South Entrance mosaic
Access to auditorium
History of the Coliseum Tour every 45 mins (12.15pm-3.15pm)
With 2,359 seats, the London Coliseum is the largest theatre in the West End of London. When it was built it was the largest in all of London and had the latest technology. It was designed by theatre impresario Sir Oswald Stoll and built by Frank Matcham, the leading theatre architect of his day.
Stoll’s ambition was to create the largest and finest ‘people’s palace of entertainment’ of the age and the theatre’s original slogan was Pro Bono Publico (for the public good). It was opened in 1904 and the inaugural performance was a variety bill on 24 December that year.
English Heritage describes the building as having its exuberant Free Baroque ambitious design, the Edwardian "Theatre de Luxe of London" has richly decorated interiors and a grandiose three-tiered auditorium. It is topped with the iconic, revolving, Coliseum globe.
It has finely executed decorative woodwork to doors and frames and marble work in the lavish foyer and auditorium. The auditorium itself features sculptures of lion-drawn chariots and has a decorated ceiling with large ribbed dome.
Matcham utilised his patented cantilevered steel design in order to build the auditorium without supporting pillars, improving sightlines and increasing capacity.
While its wing space is limited, due to the constricted site on which the theatre was built, the stage itself is vast and has the widest proscenium arch in London.
The English National Opera bought the freehold of the building for £12.8 million in 1992.