The Colosseum

Page 123

Survey of London: Volume 19, the Parish of St Pancras Part 2: Old St Pancras and Kentish Town. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1938.

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Further south the houses are of a totally different and far less interesting character. The change is accounted for by the fact that this site was originally occupied by the Colosseum, which forms almost too marked a feature at the eastern end of the panorama drawing (Plate 103a). It seems to have been a most imposing building designed by Decimus Burton to accommodate a panoramic view of London from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral. This was projected by a Mr. Hornor and the painting of the canvas occupied him and a host of other artists more than four years. The preparatory sketches were executed from an observatory constructed above the scaffolding erected for the construction of a new ball and cross above the dome. Some idea of the scale of the picture can be gauged from the statement that the representation of the New General Post Office at St. Martin's covered 300 superficial feet of canvas. Mr. Hornor made 200 sketches on large sheets of drawing paper and Elmes gives up several pages of his book to describing the extent of the panorama. The building was erected between 1824 and 1826 and removed in 1875. Plate 103a shows the actual demolition and is from a photograph in the Manckiewicz Collection (fn. n1). A record of the actual picture exists in a booklet published in 1846 and printed by J. Wertheimer, called A description of the Colosseum as reopened in 1845. Included in this book are eight embossed views lightly tinted in four colours of the various sections of the panorama. At this period the picture was repainted by Mr. E. T. Parris who had been employed at its original production. The foreground had been designed by Decimus Burton.


  • n1. Note. Copies of these photographs are in the possession of The London Society and the London Museum.