Mirth, Marvel & Maud is a bar with an illustrious past.
One of many reasons to visit Walthamstow, the cavernous bar known as Mirth, Marvel & Maud has been through many incarnations in its impressive 131-year history. Beloved of Hitchcock and visited by The Beatles and the Stones, this place has been used for arts, entertainment, and cinema. And now, cocktails.
You could be forgiven for walking past this venue on Walthamstow’s main drag without batting an eyelid – save for the large ‘MIRTH’ above the canopy visible from the opposite side of the street. The faded grandeur of its Hoe Street exterior does little to reveal the palatial space you’ll discover through the doors. The name at first seems rather curious. It stems from the owner’s great aunt Maud, who took him to a similar place once before, inspiring him to bring ‘mirth’ back to this Walthamstow ‘marvel.’
Entering into the high-ceilinged foyer, you’ll be wowed by evident glamour and greeted by the cute as heck 1930s style ticket-booth-cum-cocktail bar, dubbed ‘Mirth’. It serves up all the classics, as well as a delicious list of innovative and exciting concoctions like their Lavender Field Rummer, made with their own lavender syrup. The bar downstairs champions local breweries and serves up craft ales. The venue space currently features a cinema room, ‘Maud’, and their mezzanine restaurant, running along the back wall. The venue hosts live music, DJs, theatre, comedy performance art, spoken word, and of course, film.
Mirth, Marvel & Maud pays homage to the building’s former Art Deco splendour, boasting contemporary decor with a twist. Vintage furniture and pinball machines bring kitsch and cosy charm. As the building is Grade-II listed, many of the original features are still in place; grand marble staircases are flanked by tall mirrors and gold detailing.
Forever threatened by change and proposed redevelopment, Mirth, Marvel & Maud began life as the Granada Theatre – a cine-variety venue, and one of the first public spaces in London showing the new medium of film in 1896. It was almost turned into a church until it was saved by a community effort, with big names like Mick Jagger, Boris Johnson, Meera Syal, and Stella Creasy lending their support to the campaign.
They’re not the only big names to fall for the venue. Alfred Hitchcock was a fan, and in homage to him, local campaigners dressed up as the world-renowned director to protest the non-cinematic use of the building. It’s also played host to – deep breath – The Beatles, The Who, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Duke Ellington, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, John Coltrane, The Walker Brothers, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly.
Currently, the main auditorium is still in the process of being restored to its true glory – no mean feat, and work is still going on. Future plans involve the creation of a multi-use ‘leisure complex, including bars, restaurants, a café, boutique B&B rooms, a rooftop open-air cinema and garden, a restored 1000-seat auditorium and residential accommodation.’ Meanwhile, London’s Soho Theatre is working with the partnership to bring world-class theatre and comedy to the venue. There are still big things in store for the former Granada Cinema – Mirth, Marvel & Maud is by no means the end of the line!
Location: 186 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 4QH. Nearest station is Walthamstow Central. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: 4-11pm (Mon-Weds), 4pm-12am (Thurs), 4pm-2am (Fri), 12pm-2am (Sat), 12-11pm (Sun).
Price: cocktails start from £7.
More information: on their website.
Featured image: @mirthmarvele17