Pavilion Theatre

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Venue Type & Location

Theatre

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

Overview

  • Address: 85 Whitechapel Road, Stepney (opposite London hospital). 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: Eastern Opera House, New Royal Pavilion Theatre.



  • Capacity: The second theatre on this site (constructed in 1859) held 3,500-3,700 people; information about the capacity of the first building has not yet been found.



  • Audience Composition: Contemporary accounts suggest that the theatre largely drew its patrons from the East End neighbourhood. In 1844, for instance, Mogg’s New Picture of London claimed that the Pavilion was “conducted upon a plan calculated to please that portion of the public who reside in [its] vicinity” (reproduced at the Dictionary of Victorian London online). More specifically, several writers have suggested that there was a large Jewish contingent in Pavilion audiences (and have frequently described these spectators in ‘exotic’ terms). Likewise, an 1843 police report noted “many from the docks, many sailors” amongst the theatre’s patrons (quoted in Davis & Emeljanow 48). Police reports also frequently claim that Pavilion houses were packed with young thieves and teenaged prostitutes, and that audiences were generally crude, drunken, unruly, and violent.



    In a recent text, however, Davis & Emeljanow present evidence to suggest that commentators have exaggerated the prominence of the disorderly contingent at the Pavilion. Instead, they claim that the typical audience at the theatre was composed of ‘respectable’ working class citizens (from a variety of trades), along with a smaller middle class faction.



  • Performance Space Description: When the theatre opened in 1828, it was described as an elegant establishment to rival the patent theatres. In 1851, Henry Green Clarke corroborated this claim, labelling the Pavilion “a commodious edifice” (London in all its Glory 130). Specific information about the stage and audience space has not yet been found.



  • Typical Fare: Throughout the 1830s, the Pavilion was known for producing nautical & domestic melodramas, which were often critical of British society. This focus continued during the period covered by this database. Clarke, for instance, claimed in 1851 that the theatre was “devoted to melodramatic performances of very inferior character” (London as it is to-day 222)). In 1859, George Sala likewise wrote that “’Rugantino the Terrible’ [was] the stock piece” at the Pavilion, and labeled the theatre a place of “buff-boots, rusty broad-swords, calico-skirts, and back hairs.” (268). At the same time however, managers of the Pavilion also appear to have aspired to “respectability” during the late 1840s and 1850s. In particular, as Davis and Emeljanow note, Shakespeare remained “a constant in the repertoire” throughout the period (57).



  • Performance History

  • The Pavilion was the first of the major 19th Century theatres to be developed in London’s East End. It was established in 1828 by Wyatt - a man who Davis & Emeljanow characterize as a “cat’s meat man” (55) - and an actor named Farrell.



  • The theatre was ravaged by fire in February, 1856. It was subsequently rebuilt on a much larger scale, however, and reopened in 1858.



  • Major renovations again took place in both 1874 and 1894.



  • The Pavilion closed for the last time in 1934. It later suffered bomb damage during WWII, and was demolished completely in 1962.



    Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.


    Beth Marquis

  • Events at Pavilion Theatre

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Dramatic 27 February 1843 - 4 March 1843 London, London (city-county) Harper, E.R. , Van Bramer (minstrel)
    Dramatic 21 October 1844 - 23 October 1844 London, London (city-county) Grisdale, Walter
    Variety 28 April 1845 - 3 May 1845 London, London (city-county) Dunn, John, the British Jim Crow
    Minstrel Show 6 October 1845 - 11 October 1845 London, London (city-county) Pelham, Richard
    Variety 3 February 1846 - 3 February 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Dramatic 4 January 1847 - 9 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Rule Britannia Troupe
    Dramatic 6 November 1848 - 11 November 1848 London, London (city-county) Virginian Brothers, The
    Dramatic 18 October 1852 - 23 October 1852 London, London (city-county) Uncle Tom's Cabin Troupe (London-Pavilion, 52)

    Bibliographic Sources

    • Arthur Lloyd Website. 05/22/2008 (http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/)

      (Under London's Lost Theatres & Music Halls - Pavilion Theatre)

    • Black’s New Guide to London and its Environs. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1863.
    • Clarke, Henry Green. London in All Its Glory. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.

      p130.

    • 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 - Theatre & Shows - Theatres & Venues - Pavilion Theatre)

    • Howard, Diana. London Theatres and Music Halls 1850-1950. London: The Library Association, 1970.

      pp171-2.

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

      p39.

    • London as it is To-day. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.

      p222.

    • Penny Satirist (London) February 7, 1846: ?.
      Info in Record:
      • venue staff:

        (“Mr. Frederick Neale, the stage-manager”)
    • Sala, George Augustus. Gaslight and Daylight, with Some London Scenes They Shine Upon. London: Chapman & Hall, 1859.
    • Senelick, Laurence et al. British Music-Hall 1840-1923. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1981.

      pp.82-3, 87.

    • Theatres in Victorian London Website. 05/22/2008 (http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/theaters/pva234.html)
    • Timbs, John. Curiosities of London (1868). London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1868.

      p.786.