An excerpt from Kidd's New Guide to the "Lions" of London, with an extra illustration taken from Edward Walford's Old and New London (see bibliography for details of both), added by Jacqueline Banerjee. Note that the building was demolished in 1875 (Weinreb et al., 202).

The Colosseum, Regent's Park, illustrated by G. W. Bonner. Source: Kidd 48.

The Colosseum is a polygon of sixteen faces, each twenty-five feet in length, making the circuit of the building four hundred feet. Its front, to the extent of seventy-five feet, is adorned with a bold Greek Doric portico of six columns; and an entablature of the same character, supported by pilasters at the angles, surrounds the building. Two steps, each thirty inches high, flank the foundation throughout. Above the entablature is an attic, from which rises the dome, surmounted by a parapet, behind which is the gallery for viewing the circumjacent coun try. The central portion of the dome, seventy-five feet in diameter, is glazed, but the remainder is covered with copper. The height of the exterior walls is sixty-four feet, of the interior seventy-nine feet ; their thickness at the bottom three feet, diminishing to a foot and a half towards the roof; and the skylight of the dome is one hundred and twelve feet from the ground. This vast structure was commenced in 1824, and completed in 1827, under the direct superintendence of Mr. Decimus Burton; its substance is brick, faced with Portland stone cement, tinted to imitate stone.

Another view of the Colosseum, shown above an illustration of the highly popular diorama of London from St Paul's (as explained below by Kidd). Source: Walford 271.

The interior of the Colosseum is judiciously disposed into a saloon, where works of art are exhibited, and galleries for viewing the splendid panorama. This latter exhibition is an extraordinary performance, alike remarkable for its extent and fidelity of representation. It occupies nearly an acre of canvas, painted under the superintendence of Mr. Parris, from sketches made by Mr. Horner in 1821, from St. Paul's, at the time when repairs were going on above the dome of the cathedral. By the aid of machinery, in the centre of the building, the visitor is raised to a level with the panorama, and thus spared the trouble of mounting a staircase. A model of the cross of St. Paul's and the original ball are retained at the Colosseum.

The front of this spacious edifice is enclosed by an iron railing painted in imitation of bronze, and flanked on either side by a tasteful lodge. Carriages enter by the north gate. On a grass-plot, betwixt the portico and railing, are placed five fine American Aloes. The surrounding gardens, or rather plantations, are so judiciously laid out, as to appear more extensive than they really are. A passage through the south lodge leads to a Swiss cottage, censervatories, and other picturesque objects constructed by Mr. Robinson. To these have just been added a marine cave and grotto, apparently formed in the very bowels of the earth, and partially illuminated, through a small fissure on one side. We must in justice to the very spirited proprietors remark, that this addition to the entertainments, which has quite the effect of enchantment, is furnished without any increase of charge, and enhances, very considerably, the pleasure derived from the whole exhibition. [47-49]

Related Material


Kidd, William. Kidd's New Guide to the "Lions" of London.... Illustrated by G. W. Bonner. London: William Kidd, 1832. Hathi Trust. Contributed by Harvard University. Web. 25 November 2019.

Walford, Edward. Old and New London: The Western and Northern Suburbs. New ed. London: Cassell, nd. Internet Archive. Digital Library of India. Web. 25 November 2019.

Weinreb, Ben, Christopher Hibbert, Julia Keay and John Keay, eds. The London Encyclopaedia. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan, 2008.

Created 25 November 2019