Drury Lane Theatre

Venue Type & Location

Theatre

Site Name: Drury Lane Theatre
Location: London
County: London (city-county)
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location

Overview

  • Address: Brydges Street (now Catherine Street), Strand. For a current map, Click Here. For historical maps showing the venue (in addition to the one excerpted at right), Click Here and Here.


  • Alternate Names: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.


  • Performance Space Description: Information about this venue has not yet been compiled; however, some sense of the performance space may be gleaned by following the links at right. In particular:


  • See the 'Bibliographic Sources' link for a provisional list of venue-relevant resources (both primary and secondary). Wherever possible (i.e. when the pertinent text is relatively short and/or easily condensed) this material has been transcribed, and appears beneath the appropriate bibliographic citation.


  • See the 'Events at venue' link for a listing of blackface/minstrelsy-related events that took place in this performance space (with attached bibliographic references).


    Beth Marquis

  • Events at Drury Lane Theatre

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Dramatic 16 March 1843 - 16 March 1843 London, London (city-county) Anderson, James
    Dramatic 23 March 1843 - 23 March 1843 London, London (city-county) Anderson, James
    Dramatic 19 April 1843 - 19 April 1843 London, London (city-county) Brooke, G.V.
    Dramatic 11 May 1844 - 11 May 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Dramatic 13 May 1844 - 18 May 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Dramatic 20 May 1844 - 25 May 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Dramatic 29 May 1844 - 29 May 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Dramatic 3 June 1844 - 3 June 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Ballet 28 September 1844 - 28 September 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Ballet 30 September 1844 - 5 October 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Ballet 7 October 1844 - 12 October 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Ballet 14 October 1844 - 19 October 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Ballet 22 October 1844 - 26 October 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Dramatic 23 October 1844 - 25 October 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Ballet 28 October 1844 - 31 October 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Dramatic 30 October 1844 - 1 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Ballet 4 November 1844 - 9 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Dramatic 6 November 1844 - 8 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Dramatic 12 November 1844 - 14 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Ballet 13 November 1844 - 15 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Ballet 19 November 1844 - 20 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Dramatic 22 November 1844 - 23 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Ballet 25 November 1844 - 25 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Corsair Ballet Troupe (Drury Lane 44)
    Dramatic 28 November 1844 - 28 November 1844 London, London (city-county) Revolt of the Harem Troupe (Drury Lane, 44)
    Ballet 3 February 1845 - 8 February 1845 London, London (city-county) Danaides Troupe (London-Drury Lane, 44)
    Dramatic 13 April 1846 - 18 April 1846 London, London (city-county) Perouse Troupe (Drury Lane, 1846-7)
    Dramatic 23 April 1846 - 23 April 1846 London, London (city-county) Perouse Troupe (Drury Lane, 1846-7)
    Variety 27 April 1846 - 27 April 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Opera 11 December 1846 - 11 December 1846 London, London (city-county) Harrison
    Opera 26 December 1846 - 26 December 1846 London, London (city-county) Harrison
    Opera 1 February 1847 - 6 February 1847 London, London (city-county) Harrison
    Variety 15 March 1847 - 15 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Dramatic 3 May 1847 - 3 May 1847 London, London (city-county) New Orleans Ethiopian Serenaders
    Concert 12 November 1849 - 17 November 1849 London, London (city-county) Jullien, M.
    Dramatic 10 February 1851 - 10 February 1851 London, London (city-county) Anderson, James
    Dramatic 17 February 1851 - 17 February 1851 London, London (city-county) Anderson, James
    Dramatic 7 May 1851 - 7 May 1851 London, London (city-county) Good Queen Bess Troupe (London-Drury Lane, 51)
    Dramatic 20 December 1852 - 25 December 1852 London, London (city-county) Uncle Tom's Cabin Troupe (London-Drury Lane, 52), Betty, Henry

    Bibliographic Sources

    • Arthur Lloyd Website. 05/22/2008 (http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/)
    • Banham, Martin (ed). Cambridge Guide to Theatre, The. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.
    • Black’s New Guide to London and its Environs. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1863.




      “DRURY LANE THEATRE, near Covent Garden Market, is renowned in the annals of the British drama, the first house on this site dating from 1663. It was built for Thomas Killigrew, and others, ‘the king's servants,’ in Charles the Second's reign. When that theatre was burned down, Sir Christopher Wren designed its successor. Rich, Steele, and Garrick, were amongst the patentees; and here the last took leave of the stage. Sheridan afterwards became one of the proprietors, and in his time the theatre was pulled down and rebuilt. The new house was destroyed by fire in 1809, and then succeeded the present building, designed by B. Wyatt, which was opened in 1812, Lord Byron writing the address. This occasion gave rise to that amusing production of the Smiths, ‘Rejected Addresses.’ The Doric portico in Brydges Street, and the iron colonnade in Little Russell Street, were added during Elliston's lessee-ship. The hall contains a cast of Scheemaker's statue of Shakspere, and a statue of Edmund Kean, by Joseph. Amongst the celebrated actors and actresses who have appeared at Drury Lane were, Nell Gwynne, Mrs. Siddons, John Kemble, Edmund Kean, and Macready” (213).
    • Carthalia - Theatres on Postcards Website. 09/14/2008 (http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/carthalia/index.html)
    • Clarke, Henry Green. London in All Its Glory. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.




      “DRURY LANE THEATRE, Brydges Street. The original theatre on this site having been bnrnt down in 1809, it was rebuilt in 1811, from designs by Mr. Wyatt. The front towards Brydges Street, which is exceedingly mean, is ornamented with pilasters of the Doric order, with a portico. In 1822 the interior was entirely remodelled by Mr. Peto from designs by S. Beazley, Esq., architect, and will contain three thousand and sixty persons. The staircase, hall, rotunda, and saloon are of great beauty, and with the interior at once convenient and commodious. In consequencee [sic] of the drepressed [sic] state of the classic English drama, this theatre is now devoted to the production of German operas and French horsemanship” (123-4).
    • Cunningham, P. Modern London; or, London as it is. London: John Murray, 1851.




      ”DRURY LANE THEATRE, is the oldest in London. The present edifice, the fourth on the same site, was erected and opened 1812, with a prologue by Lord Byron. Mr. B. Wyatt, son of James Wyatt, was the architect. The portico towards Brydges-street was added during the lesseeship of Elliston (1819-26), and the colonnade in Little Russell-street a few years after. Since the close of Mr. Macready's season, June 14th, 1843, the glories of old Drury may be said to have altogether departed. Mr. Anderson is at present the lessee, and is making a struggle to fill his house with English Operas, and other ingenious attractions. Within the vestibule is a marble statue of Edmund Kean as Hamlet, by Carew. It is like - but the attraction of Kean in Hamlet was the witchery of his voice” (176).
    • Davis, Jim & Victor Emeljanow. Reflecting the Audience. London Theatregoing, 1840-1880. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001.
    • Dictionary of Victorian London Online. 07/27/2008 (http://www.victorianlondon.org/)

      (Under Entertainment and Recreation - Theatre and Shows - Theatres and Venues - Drury Lane Theatre)

    • Elmes, James. Metropolitan Improvements; or London in the Nineteenth Century. London: Jones & Co., 1828.




      ”DRURY LANE THEATRE. The principal front next Brydges Street is two hundred and thirty-one feet in length, and, before the addition of the present ugly portico, consisted of two slightly projecting wings from which an elegant tetrastyle portico of the Ionic order, the whole height of the building, was to have projected. […] These wings are formed of four antæ, surmounted by an entablature, the architrave of which is very properly omitted in the central part, and in the sides which extend beyond the wings. This central part or entire façade is plastered with Roman cement in imitation of Portland stone, and joins on to the north front in little Russell Street, (so named after the Duke of Bedford, its ground landlord) with great ingenuity and pleasing effect. The cornice is surmounted by a lofty blocking-course, breaking into piers over the antæ. The capitals of the antæ are of the pure Greek Ionic, after those of the temple of Minerva Polias at Priene; the echini of which are embellished with eggs and tongues, and the hypotrachelion. with the beautiful foliage of the Grecian honeysuckle Between the shafts of the antæ in each wing is a window, constructed upon a deep stone sill, which corresponds in lines and height with the string-course of the north and south front lines. The division of the stories is properly marked by a larger or principal string-course, which runs through, and pervades the whole composition. […]” (135-6).
    • Era (London) March 5, 1848: 12:2.
    • Era (London) March 12, 1848: 11:4.
    • Era (London) January 12, 1851: 10:4.
    • Fitzgerald, Percy Hetherington. A New History of the English Stage, from the Restoration to the Liberty of the Theatres. London. Tinsley Brothers: 1882, .
    • Green, Benny (ed.). Bibliography ID 8609. London: Pavilion, 1986.
    • Howard, Diana. London Theatres and Music Halls 1850-1950. London: The Library Association, 1970.

      pp66-68.

    • Knight, Charles (ed). London Vol. 5 & 6. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1851.

      in London Theatres Chapter, pp273-288.

    • London and its Environs. Leipsic: Karl Baedeker, 1885.




      ”DRURY LANE THEATRE, between Drury Lane and Brydges Street, near Covent Garden, where Garrick used to act. Shakspeare's play,s comedies, spectacular plays, English opera, etc. Pantomime in winter. […] The vestibule contains a statue of Kean as Hamlet by Carew, and others” (38).
    • London as it is To-day. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.




      The information provided within this source is similar to that given within London in all its Glory, also published by H.G. Clarke, & Co.


      In addition, this source also contains the following:

      “The interior is very beautifully decorated; and the ceiling painted to represent the firmament, as seen through, or from a gilt balcony. The stage is of great extent, being ninety-six feet long, and seventy-seven feet in width. In the principal green-room are busts of Shakspeare, Garrick, Mrs. Siddons, and Edmund Kean. At this theatre, during the month of November, M. Jullien gives his promenade concerts, and at their close, a bal masque. Doors open at half-past six o’clock; performances commence at seven. Admission: boxes, four shillings; pit, two shillings; gallery, one shilling; upper gallery, sixpence; Second price at nine o clock. The entrance to Her Majesty's box is from Russell Street. The stage entrance is in Russell Street, near Drury Lane" (210-11)
    • The London Stage 1800-1900 (University of Massachusetts). 03/23/2008 (http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~a0fs000/1800/1800.html)
    • London Theatre Direct Website. 09/04/2008 (http://www.londontheatredirect.com/information/seatingplans.htm)
    • London Theatres Website (Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury). 05/22/2008 (http://library.kent.ac.uk/library/special/html/specoll/theindex.htm)
    • Mackintosh, Iain. Architecture, Actor, and Audience. London: Routledge, 1993.
    • Moody, Jane. Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1840. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.
    • Bibliography ID 8559. 09/04/2008 (http://www.rutheatres.com/index.htm)
    • Stanton, Sarah & Martin Banham (eds). Cambridge Paperback Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
    • Theatres in Victorian London Website. 05/22/2008 (http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/theaters/pva234.html)
    • Theatres Trust Website. 03/06/2008 (http://www.theatrestrust.org.uk)




      "Architecturally and historically this is one of the most important theatres in the world. No other site in Britain has a longer history of continuous theatre use. The right of the Lane to present dramatic entertainments dates from the Royal Patent (still in the possession of the theatre) granted by Charles II to Killigrew in 1662. Drury Lane shares with Haymarket Theatre Royal the distinction of being entirely pre-Victorian in external appearance (the Lyceum has a pre-Victorian portico). As now seen, the main theatrical shell, the staircase, rotunda, saloon etc of 1811-12, are by B D Wyatt and comprise the only substantial Georgian theatre fabric in London. The entrance façe is the earliest now surviving in London on a working theatre. It is a pity that the portico of 1820 is so obviously an addition to Wyatt’s restrained but elegant Neo-classical design, but Beazley’s side colonnade of 1831 is a worthy later adornment and a fine townscape feature, especially when viewed from Covent Garden Market. The great staircase, rotunda & saloon are important late Georgian monuments in their own right and unparalleled in any British theatre for their splendour and sense of grand theatrical occasion. Inevitably, after the architectural promise of these public spaces, the comparatively modern (1922) auditorium disappoints, but only by contrast. It is of considerable quality and, from a theatrical viewpoint, remarkably successful and intimate. This is surprising when it is remembered that, in the 1920s, theatre architecture had no clear direction. By Emblin Walker, Jones & Cromie, this is the last auditorium to be designed in the rich fin-de-sièe manner established by Matcham, Sprague & Crewe (the Fortune is only two years later and belongs to a totally different era). It has some points of kinship with Manchester Opera House (1912) and, more so, Manchester Palace (1913). The style is Empire with a rectangular proscenium and a modelled elliptical tympanum over. The proscenium is separated from three tiers of curving balcony fronts by deep canted side walls containing three bays of boxes at three levels, framed by pilasters and columns of imitation lapis lazuli. They have gilt capitals carrying an entablature from which a flared and coffered elliptical-arched ceiling springs across to form a deep sounding board. The stage is raked at the front, flat at the back, with an extensive counterweight system. Elaborate metal stage machinery with six bridges (two tilting), described in the Stage Year Book for 1910, survived the 1922 works, and as rare survivals of their genre, they are highly significant. They are, however, not regularly used, and in 2007 works to accommodate an incoming show saw the machinery in part moved and altered, as well as being overhauled. Any alterations were temporary, however, and all machinery will be re-instated following the end of that particular show's run. Drury Lane is, unlike almost every other West End theatre, generously planned, with a 130ft frontage and a depth of well over 300ft. Within this area, the auditorium, stage and additional backstage areas are contained in a succession of approx 80ft cubes. The vast backstage areas, such as the scene dock, present valuable opportunities for future improvements, although it must be noted are of architectural and historic merit in their own right. The antiquity of the theatre and its complex building history makes it important that all future works, especially at lower levels should be monitored for recordable evidence of earlier phases."
    • Timbs, John. Curiosities of London (1868). London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1868.




      “DRURY-LANE THEATRE, between Drury-lane and Brydges-street, forms the east side of Little Russell-street. The first theatre here was built precisely upon this site for Thomas Killigrew, and opened April 8, 1663. […] The present house, built by B. Wyatt, from the plan of the great Bordeaux theatre, was opened Oct. 12, 1812, with a prologue by Lord Byron. In 1818 the theatre was let, at 10.200l. per annum, to Elliston, for whom Beazley reduced the auditory, added the Doric portico in Brydges-street, and the cast-iron colonnade in Little Russell-street in 1831. In the hall is a cast of Scheemakers's statue of Shakspeare, and a statue of Edmund Kean by S. Joseph. The staircases and rotunda are magnificent, and the interior circular roof of the auditory is geometrically fine” (783).


      Also gives the theatre’s capacity (in 1866) as 2500 (789)
    • Timbs, John. Curiosities of London (1855). London: David Bogue, 1855.

      pp716-17.


      The information provided within this source is much the same as that given within the 1868 edition of the book.
    • "A Tour Among the Theatres". Metropolitan Magazine, The February, 1847: 183-194.
    • Wyatt, Benjamin Dean. Observations on the design for the Theatre Royal, Drury lane, as executed in 1812. London: Printed for J. Taylor, 1813.