St. James Theatre

Venue Type & Location

Theatre

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

Overview

  • Address: King Street, London. For a current map,
    Click Here. For historical maps showing the venue (in addition to those excerpted at right), Click Here and Here.



  • Alternate Names: Prince’s Theatre; Theatre Royal, St. James’s; The Royal St. James’s



  • Capacity: Diana Howard notes that the St. James’s could accommodate approximately 1,200 people following its 1879 renovations, and between 950 and 1100 following the reconstruction of the theatre in 1900 (210-211). The specific capacity of the house that was operative during the years covered by this database, however, has not yet been located.



  • Performance Space Description: Several contemporary accounts describe the beauty and elegance of this venue. A piece in the 1844 edition of Mogg’s New Picture of London, for instance, notes that the interior of the theatre, “which consists of two rows of boxes, a gallery, and pit, is sumptuously and elegantly decorated” (reproduced in the Dictionary of Victorian London Online). Similarly, the following description ran in The Times the day after the theatre first opened in 1835: "Much has been said in approbation of the form, and in praise of the decoration, of the theatre. These laudatory avant-courriers are rarely to be depended on as the heralds of truth; but in this instance they have rather fallen short of than gone beyond the fact [sic]. This theatre is indeed a beautiful structure, and as unique as it is beautiful. The audience part of the house inclines very slightly, almost imperceptibly, to the horse-shoe form. The prevailing colour is a delicate French white. A series of arches, supporting the roof, and sustained by Caryatides, runs entirely round the upper part of the theatre. The effect is novel and very pleasing. The chandelier is a most striking object. It is formed of gilt copper, and is elaborately carved. It is for splendour of appearance, and curious elegance of design, the handsomest thing of the kind that we have ever seen. It throws forth an immense flood of light, and, aided by the girandoles which are placed round the dress circle, creates a mimic day. To the architect, Mr. Beazley, much praise is due; and the decorator (Frederick Crace and Son of Wigmore Street), who has, to a nicety in every point, imitated the gay yet splendid style of the age of Louis Quatorze, must not be passed by without high eulogium. He has executed his task with extraordinary ability, and he deserves the highest commendation. The tout ensemble of the house is light and brilliant. It looks like a fairy palace. Then, the two great points which are most important to the comfort of an audience-hearing and seeing-have been sedulously consulted; and, with reference to them, we think that the new theatre takes the lead of all its brethren." (reproduced on the Arthur Lloyd Site).


  • Typical Fare: Between 1842 and 1852, the St. James’s offered dramatic performances of all types. That said, it was particularly known as a home for foreign dramatic troupes, and was especially noted, as a writer for Chruchley’s London in 1865 put it, for performances by “an admirable French company” (reproduced in the Dictionary of Victorian London Online). Mogg’s New Picture of London suggests that operatic performances were also common at the theatre during the early 1840s (ibid).

  • Performance History

  • Samuel Beazley designed the St. James’s in 1835, at the request of the renowned vocalist John Braham. All told, the theatre cost more than 18,000 pounds of Braham’s money to complete. It opened on December 14, 1835 with two farces and a burletta.



  • The venue survived throughout the remainder of the 19th century and into the 20th, receiving sporadic renovations and refurbishments along the way.



  • In 1957, the theatre was closed in order to make way for an office building. Vivien Leigh soon initiated a campaign to save the St. James’s (and Winston Churchill himself donated 500 pounds to the cause), but these efforts were to no avail. The building was demolished by the end of the year.




    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.



    The Howard text (cited above) also contains an extensive listing of relevant contemporary and historical sources pertaining to the theatre.




    Additional resources (which have not yet been accessed, include:


  • Duncan, Barry. The St. James Theatre: its strange and complete history. 1835-1957. London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1964.


  • Mander, Raymond and Joe Mitchenson. The Lost Theatres of London. London: Hart-Davis, 1968.


    Beth Marquis

  • Events at St. James Theatre

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Unknown 28 January 1845 - 28 January 1845 London, London (city-county) Kiddle, W.
    Minstrel Show 9 February 1846 - 14 February 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 16 February 1846 - 21 February 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 23 February 1846 - 28 February 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 2 March 1846 - 7 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Dramatic 4 March 1846 - 4 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 9 March 1846 - 14 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 16 March 1846 - 21 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 23 March 1846 - 28 March 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 30 March 1846 - 4 April 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 13 April 1846 - 18 April 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 20 April 1846 - 25 April 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 27 April 1846 - 2 May 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 4 May 1846 - 9 May 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 11 May 1846 - 16 May 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 19 May 1846 - 23 May 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 25 May 1846 - 30 May 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 1 June 1846 - 6 June 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 9 June 1846 - 13 June 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 15 June 1846 - 20 June 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 22 June 1846 - 27 June 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 29 June 1846 - 4 July 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 6 July 1846 - 11 July 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Dramatic 8 July 1846 - 8 July 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 13 July 1846 - 18 July 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 20 July 1846 - 25 July 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 27 July 1846 - 1 August 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 3 August 1846 - 8 August 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Variety 4 August 1846 - 4 August 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 14 December 1846 - 19 December 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 21 December 1846 - 26 December 1846 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 28 December 1846 - 2 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 4 January 1847 - 9 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 5 January 1847 - 9 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 11 January 1847 - 16 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 18 January 1847 - 23 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 25 January 1847 - 30 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Dramatic 25 January 1847 - 30 January 1847 London, London (city-county) Lemaitre
    Minstrel Show 1 February 1847 - 6 February 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 8 February 1847 - 13 February 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Dramatic 8 February 1847 - 13 February 1847 London, London (city-county) Lemaitre
    Minstrel Show 15 February 1847 - 20 February 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 22 February 1847 - 27 February 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 1 March 1847 - 6 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 8 March 1847 - 13 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 15 March 1847 - 20 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 22 March 1847 - 27 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Concert 23 March 1847 - 23 March 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 29 March 1847 - 3 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 5 April 1847 - 10 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 12 April 1847 - 17 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 19 April 1847 - 24 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 26 April 1847 - 1 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 3 May 1847 - 8 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 10 May 1847 - 15 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 17 May 1847 - 22 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 24 May 1847 - 29 May 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 31 May 1847 - 5 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 7 June 1847 - 12 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 14 June 1847 - 19 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 21 June 1847 - 26 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Variety 26 June 1847 - 26 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 28 June 1847 - 3 July 1847 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48)
    Minstrel Show 6 December 1848 - 9 December 1848 London, London (city-county) Dumbolton's Serenaders (1848-49)
    Minstrel Show 11 December 1848 - 15 December 1848 London, London (city-county) Dumbolton's Serenaders (1848-49)
    Minstrel Show 18 December 1848 - 22 December 1848 London, London (city-county) Dumbolton's Serenaders (1848-49)
    Minstrel Show 25 December 1848 - 30 December 1848 London, London (city-county) Dumbolton's Serenaders (1848-49)
    Minstrel Show 1 January 1849 - 6 January 1849 London, London (city-county) Dumbolton's Serenaders (1848-49)
    Dramatic 29 November 1851 - 29 November 1851 London, London (city-county) Printers' Dramatic Society Othello (St. James, 51)

    Bibliographic Sources

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

      (Under London's Lost Theatres and Music Halls - St. James's Theatre)

    • Black’s New Guide to London and its Environs. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1863.
    • 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.

      pp126-7.

    • Cunningham, P. Modern London; or, London as it is. London: John Murray, 1851.

      p178.

    • Dictionary of Victorian London Online. 07/27/2008 (http://www.victorianlondon.org/)

      (Under Entertainment - Theatres & Shows - Theatres - St. James's Theatre)

    • Globe and Traveller (London) December 28, 1846: ?.
      Info in Record:
      • proprietor/lessee
    • Howard, Diana. London Theatres and Music Halls 1850-1950. London: The Library Association, 1970.
    • London as it is To-day. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.

      p215.

    • London Remembers Website. 03/21/2008 (http://www.londonremembers.com/memorial/?hmenu=site-list&id=640)
    • Morning Chronicle (London) February 11, 1846: 5.
      Info in Record:
      • surrounding performances at venue
    • Morning Chronicle (London) April 6, 1846: 4.
      Info in Record:
      • proprietor/lessee
    • Observer (London) April 5, 1846: 1: 1.
      Info in Record:
      • proprietor/lessee

        (“Mr. Mitchell”)
    • Observer (London) April 12, 1846: 1: 1.
      Info in Record:
      • proprietor/lessee

        (“Mr. Mitchell”)
    • Observer (London) May 3, 1846: 1: 1 (2nd relevant ad).
      Info in Record:
      • venue description/décor/performance environment (suggested in ticket price breakdown)
    • Observer (London) June 27, 1847: 5.
      Info in Record:
      • proprietor/lessee
    • Observer (London) June 27, 1847: 5.
      Info in Record:
      • proprietor/lessee
    • Observer (London) June 27, 1847: 1: 1.
    • 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.

      p785.

    • Timbs, John. Curiosities of London (1855). London: David Bogue, 1855.

      p718.

    • "A Tour Among the Theatres". Metropolitan Magazine, The April, 1847: 415-428.