The Criterion Theatre by Thomas Verity. 1874. Piccadilly Circus, London W1. Detail of marquee. [Click on these images and those below to enlarge them.]

According to the theater's own website, "In 1870 following the acquisition of the White Bear Inn site, and adjoining properties between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly Circus, caterers Spiers and Pond commissioned Thomas Verity to design a new development consisting of a large restaurant, dining rooms, ballroom, and galleried concert hall. Having commenced building work it was decided to alter the proposed concert hall (though retaining the composers names, which still line the tiled staircases to this day), to a theatre. . . . The Criterion retains an almost perfectly preserved Victorian auditorium."

British Listed Buildings, which provides a detailed history and analysis of the building, points out that “ Of original interior features of the Criterion Restaurant that survive the tunnel vaulted "Long Bar" with its "glistening" gold mosaic decoration and the first floor banqueting room are of note. The Criterion Theatre itself is exceptional in being located in the basement. Approached by foyer corridors and staircase lined with richly polychromed tiles and painted tile panels alternating with large plate mirrors the auditorium is still substantially that of 1874 with the 1884 remodelling. ”

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Research and all photographs except for that at top left by Robert Freidus. Formatting, text, one photograph, and perspective correction by George P. Landow. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Bradley, Simon, and Nikolaus Pevsner. London 6: Westminster. “The Buildings of England.” New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003.

“The Criterion Theatre.” British Listed Buildings. Web. 27 October 2011.

Last modified 5 December 2005