The Westminster Central Hall or Methodist Central Hall is a Methodist church in the City of Westminster. It occupies the corner of Tothill Street and Storeys Gate just off Victoria Street in London, near the junction with The Sanctuary next to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and facing Westminster Abbey.
It is a multi-purpose building—a Methodist church, a conference and exhibition centre, an art gallery, an office building, and a tourist attraction. The Great Hall seats up to 2,352 people.
Central Hall Westminster was erected to mark the centenary of John Wesley's death. It was built in 1905-11 on the site of the Royal Aquarium, Music Hall and Imperial Theatre, an entertainment complex that operated with varying success from 1876 to 1903.
Central Hall was funded between 1898 and 1908 by 1,025,000 contributors to the "Wesleyan Methodist Twentieth Century Fund" (or the "Million Guinea Fund", as it became more commonly known), whose aim was to raise one million guineas from one million Methodists.
Central Hall hosted the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. In return for the use of the hall, the Assembly voted to fund the repainting of the walls of the church in a light blue – the paint is still there, albeit marginally cracked and peeling. It has been regularly used for political rallies—famous speakers have included Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill. In 1968 it hosted the first public performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in a concert that also included his father (organist William Lloyd Webber who was Musical Director at Central Hall) his brother (cellist Julian Lloyd Webber) and pianist John Lill.
It is frequently used for public enquiries, including those into the Ladbroke Grove rail crash, the sinking of the Marchioness pleasure boat, and the Bloody Sunday incident in Northern Ireland.
From 1932 to 2000, Central Hall was the headquarters of the Methodist Church.
Westminster, St James' Park, Victoria
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