Londina Illustrata. Graphic and Historical Memorials of Monasteries, Churches, Chapels, Schools, Charitable Foundations, Palaces, Halls, Courts, Processions, Places of Early Amusement, and Modern Present Theatres, in the Cities and Suburbs of London and Westminster, Volume 2

Wilkinson, Robert
1819-1825

Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre.

Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre.

South View of the Theatre Royal in Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Soon after Sir Richard Steele had obtained the renewal of the licence for Drury Lane Theatre (temp. George I.), the house in Lincoln's Inn Fields being finished by the old patentee, who had been silenced, he procured, by the interest of Mr. Craggs, the younger, his suspension to be taken off; upon which that playhouse being opened, proved at first a great drawback upon the profits of the old house. Several of their best actors (Drury Lane) went to the new house in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Drake's Essays on the Spectator, &c., vol. i. p. 120, which refers to Cibber's Apology, 2d edit., chap. 15, London, 1740, 8vo.

The difficulties that we have hinted as attendant on the Theatre, called forth, in a very eminent degree, the genius of the manager, Mr. Rich, who may be deemed the father of the pantomime in this country; for, although his precursors, Weaver and his SIRE, made some attempts at the revival of this classic art, they by no means succeeded, though the former fancied he had derived them correctly from the heathen mythology. It was in this happy instance reserved for Rich, Jun., to change the taste of the public from the times when literature had polished the manners, and introduced nature into tragedy, and humour into comedy, while character and wit had taken place of absurd spectacle, marked with dulness, and splendid decoration; in short, to realize the Attalani of Nero, the Rosycrusian fables of the dark and mimic nonsense of the middle ages. Another Aeschylus appears; prepare For new abortions, all you pregnant fair: Immortal Rich, how calm he sits at ease, 'Midst snows of paper, and fierce hail of pease; And, proud his mistress' orders to perform, Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.—Dunciad.

Two hundred and sixty pounds, entrance money, was received the first night that the pantomime of "Dr. Faustvs" was produced in that small Theatre: more, by a few pounds, than when "Harlequin Sorcerer" was played, 1725; and, when the "Rape of Proserpine" was performed in 1727, so great was the crowd at Lincoln's Inn Fields, that many serious accidents are said to have happened, while at Drury they played to empty benches.

But the time when the little Theatre, as it might comparatively be called, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, arrived at the very acme of its success and glory, was in the year 1728, when the celebrated piece, the "Beggar's Opera,"The Beggar's Opera had been offered to the company of Drury Lane, and was refused. commanded an uninterrupted run of sixty-three nights, during the first season, and, as it has been tritely, though truly said, "made Gay rich, and Rich gay."This opera produced a mania in town; it totally changed the character of the rising generations, and, as the annals of police too fatally evince, was admired for its licentiousness, by those who did not understand its wit, while, also, from want of education, they were totally incapable of being impressed with its political irony, and were, alas! too callous to receive any benefit from the moral tendency, if any moral benefit was contemplated by its author.

The contracted size of the Playhouse, compared to the amazing success of its dramas, as we have just stated, the repeated complaints of the spectators within, and of the neighbours without, though these complaints arose from very different causes, which have been already shown, together with the obvious want of stage room for processions, and, above all, for pantomimical exhibitions, induced the manager to determine upon the building of another Theatre: accordingly, Covent Garden was the chosen spot, and his friend, James Sheppard, Esq.,He built Sheppard's Market, Curzon Street, May Fair, &c., and was an eminent surveyor: we believe the business of surveying was, in a great degree, divided between Morley and himself. was the director and architect; he formed the plan, made the design, which met with general approbation, and largely interested himself in the subscription. In Feb., 1731, six thousand pounds were raised, and the workmen the same month began to take down some old buildings, probably part of the convent left by Inigo Jones, and the latter end of November, 1732, completed the work. It appears from the public papers, that the crown was then in treaty for Lincoln's Inn Fields Playhouse, as an office for the commissioners of stamp duties, but the negotiation failed, and the stamp-office was afterwards removed to Lincoln's Inn. It will here be necessary to take a slight notice of Hogarth's print of the removal of the Lincoln's Inn Fields company to COVENT GARDEN, as this triumphant procession forms a part of the series of prints which we have faintly endeavoured to illustrate. This humourous effort is entitled, Rich's Glory, or his Triumphant Entry into Covent Garden,

very properly, because a number of fortunate circumstances, which we have stated, had contributed, as HOGARTH well knew, to render the entry at once magnificent and, as he, Rich, said, felicitous.

The point of time which the artist has chosen to celebrate, is when the procession had arrived at the great Piazza, Covent Garden: Johnny Gay, mounted upon the back of the treasurer, and preceded by a chorus, or rather gang of, it may be supposed, the nocturnal attendants on the audience of the Beggar's Opera, shouting, Gay for ever! is about to enter: he is followed by Apollo's car, drawn by six satyrs, which are unclassical appendages in the style of the learned and renowned father of the still greater Rich—they are very misplaced. The coachman, who sometimes used to personate the Solar God, is the under Harlequin, Nat Clarke,Who was so like Rich, it was impossible to know them asunder, as poor Nat once found to his cost. he drives along in state and solemnity, while in this machine is seated the HERO himself, in the character of a spaniel dog,In January, 1717, one Swart, a German, brought over two dogs, whom he had taught to dance the Louvre and Minuet; they were immediately engaged by RICH at ten pounds per night, and brought twenty full houses, while the Othello of Booth, the Wildair of Wilks, and the Foppington of Cibber, were neglected, and did not bring charges. Swarts, whose great ancestor invented powder Gunpowder was invented, or rather revived, in 1330, by Barthold Swarts, a German apothecary at Nuremberg, whose process of making it became public, and was soon followed by the invention of ordnance, then called Bombards, and by the Scots, the Cracks of War., Nightly contrives to make us CLAP still louder; Encouraged by the learn'd sagacious Rich, Assisted by his pantomimic switch TheMagician's Rod. We plaud the Minuet of his DOG and BITCH: Of Cibber, Wilks, and Booth, we coldly speak: Rich spends in Dog's Meat, sixty pounds per week; While puppies, male and female, crowd in flocks, He laughs, and puts nine hundred in his box. which was one of the most entertaining parts assumed by him in one of his new pantomimes.In the Rape of Proserpine. He is accompanied by Columbine,Miss Morceau. and attended by his company in procession, at the head of which marches QUIN, in the character of the Old Bachelor, followed by RYAN, WALKER, HALL, HIPPESLY, BULLOCK, SPILLER, SMITH, CHAPMAN, MILWARD, &c., properly characterized. Miss WARREN succeeded Miss FENTON in Polly, Mrs. EAGLETON, Mrs. MORCEAU, Mrs. LACY, Miss SALLEY, &c., all in their stage paraphernalia. A cart brings up the rear, loaded with theatrical properties, among which, a large COFFIN (Ophelia's or Juliet's we will suppose), inscribed THUNDER and LIGHTNING, are the most conspicuous articles. A figure is placed near, dressed in an antique military habit, with a long spear in his hand; he is urging a fine war horse, who shrinks from the dismounted warrior's spear, rears up, and frightens the tame animal that draws the said cart, and probably amuses the company.These were probably part of the goods, or rather the properties of Christopher Rich, Esq., our hero's father, an inventory of which makes so considerable a figure in the fifteenth number of The Tatler, on his removal from Drury Lane to Lincoln's Inn Fields. Two authors are most obsequiously paying their respects to the manager, as he passes, while a third is drawing a wheelbarrow full of his works to the Theatre.

To return, however, to the abandoned Playhouse in Lincoln's Inn Fields: notwithstanding the dramatic rage of that period,The Universal Spectator, 1735, says, "I have information that a number of apprentices and gentlemen, who play for amusement, have formed a new company in York Buildings Sir Richard Steele built this room for Oratory and Music., which shows the necessity for the number of playhouses to be regulated, or else the nation may degenerate into a set of stage players." it stood empty for some time after the secession of Rich. SENESINO, the celebrated singer, then hired it in the year 1733-4, for the purpose of exhibiting Italian Operas; then GIFFARD, the manager of Goodman's Fields, finding that playhouses prospered more at the west than the east end of the town, took Lincoln's Inn Fields, and held it in conjunction with that theatre, in the year 1734-5 and 1735-6. It appears that Mr. Havard had some concern in it; in 1737, his tragedy of KING CHARLES THE FIRST was played there. "A Tutor for the Beaux, &c., by J. Hewit," was also performed at the same place, the same year. Bickerstaff's "Unburied Dead" was performed at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1743, and many others between the above periods, but it does not appear by any regular company, which, indeed, its vicinity to the theatres would have prevented.

HALL, the original Locket, who was a dancing-master, had a dancing school, and, consequently, balls in the Theatre; his second wife kept the Bell and Dragon tavern and ordinary, opposite, frequented by actors, young lawyers, city youths, &c. In this Playhouse there were frequently concerts, also exhibitions of showmen, &c. It was afterwards in part occupied by a fencing-master, and latterly by auctioneers, and many curiosities and elegant articles of cabinet work and furniture were sold there by the hammer; for the disposal of which, the respectability of the situation was well adapted.

 

Soon after Sir Richard Steele had obtained the renewal of the licence for (temp. George I.), the house in being finished by the old patentee, who had been silenced, he procured, by the interest of Mr. Craggs, the younger, his suspension to be taken off; upon which that playhouse being opened, proved at a great drawback upon the profits of the old house. Several of their best actors () went to the new house in .

Drake's Essays on the Spectator, &c., vol. i. p. , which refers to Cibber's Apology, d edit., chap. , London, , vo.

The difficulties that we have hinted as attendant on the Theatre, called forth, in a very eminent degree, the genius of the manager, Mr. Rich, who may be deemed the father of the pantomime in this country; for, although his precursors, Weaver and his SIRE, made some attempts at the of this art, they by no means succeeded, though the former fancied he had derived them correctly from the heathen mythology. It was in this happy instance reserved for , Jun., to change the taste of the public from the times when literature had polished the manners, and introduced into , and into , while and had taken place of , marked with dulness, and splendid decoration; in short, to realize the of , the of the dark and nonsense of the

Another Aeschylus appears; prepare

For new abortions, all you pregnant fair:

Immortal Rich, how calm he sits at ease,

'Midst snows of paper, and fierce hail of pease;

And, proud his mistress' orders to perform,

Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.—Dunciad.

, entrance money, was received the night that the pantomime of "" was produced in that small Theatre: more, by a few pounds, than when "" was played, ; and, when the "" was performed in , so great was the crowd at , that many serious accidents are said to have happened, while at Drury they played to empty benches.

But the time when the , as it might comparatively be called, in , arrived at the very of its success and glory, was in the year , when the celebrated piece, the ","[*]  commanded an uninterrupted run of , during the season, and, as it has been tritely, though truly said, "made Gay rich, and Rich gay."[*] 

The contracted size of the Playhouse, compared to the amazing success of its dramas, as we have just stated, the repeated complaints of the spectators within, and of the neighbours without, though these complaints arose from very different causes, which have been already shown, together with the obvious want of for processions, and, above all, for , induced the manager to determine upon the building of another Theatre: accordingly, was the chosen spot, and his friend, James Sheppard, Esq.,[*]  was the director and architect; he formed the plan, made the design, which met with general approbation, and largely interested himself in the subscription. In , were raised, and the workmen the same month began to take down some old buildings, probably part of the convent left by Inigo Jones, and the latter end of , completed the work. It appears from the public papers, that the crown was then in treaty for , as an office for the commissioners of stamp duties, but the negotiation failed, and the stamp-office was afterwards removed to It will here be necessary to take a slight notice of of the removal of the company to COVENT GARDEN, as this triumphant procession forms a part of the series of prints which we have faintly endeavoured to illustrate. This humourous effort is entitled,

Rich's Glory, or his Triumphant Entry into Covent Garden

,

very properly, because a number of fortunate circumstances, which we have stated, had contributed, as HOGARTH well knew, to render the entry at once magnificent and, as he, Rich, said, felicitous.

144

 

The point of time which the artist has chosen to celebrate, is when the procession had arrived at the great , mounted upon the back of the , and preceded by a chorus, or rather gang of, it may be supposed, the nocturnal attendants on the audience of the , shouting, is about to enter: he is followed by Apollo's car, drawn by , which are unclassical appendages in the style of the learned and renowned father of the still greater Rich—they are very misplaced. The coachman, who sometimes used to personate the Solar God, is the ,[*]  he drives along in state and solemnity, while in this machine is seated the HERO himself, in the character of a spaniel dog,[*]  which was of the most entertaining parts assumed by him in of his new pantomimes.[*]  He is accompanied by Columbine,[*]  and attended by his company in procession, at the head of which marches QUIN, in the character of the , followed by RYAN, WALKER, HALL, HIPPESLY, BULLOCK, SPILLER, SMITH, CHAPMAN, MILWARD, &c., properly characterized. Miss WARREN succeeded Miss FENTON in , Mrs. EAGLETON, Mrs. MORCEAU, Mrs. LACY, Miss SALLEY, &c., all in their stage paraphernalia. A cart brings up the rear, loaded with , among which, a large COFFIN (Ophelia's or Juliet's we will suppose), inscribed THUNDER and LIGHTNING, are the most conspicuous articles. A is placed near, dressed in an antique military habit, with a long spear in his hand; he is urging a fine , who shrinks from the dismounted warrior's spear, rears up, and frightens the tame animal that draws the said cart, and probably amuses the company.[*]  authors are most obsequiously paying their respects to the manager, as he passes, while a is drawing a wheelbarrow full of to the Theatre.

To return, however, to the abandoned Playhouse in notwithstanding the dramatic rage of that period,[*]  it stood empty for some time after the secession of SENESINO, the celebrated singer, then hired it in the year -, for the purpose of exhibiting then GIFFARD, the manager of , finding that playhouses prospered more at the than the end of the town, took , and held it in conjunction with that theatre, in the year - and -. It appears that Mr. Havard had some concern in it; in , his tragedy of KING CHARLES THE was played there. "A Tutor for the Beaux, &c., by J. Hewit," was also performed at the same place, the same year. Bickerstaff's "Unburied Dead" was performed at in , and many others between the above periods, but it does not appear by any regular company, which, indeed, its vicinity to the theatres would have prevented.

HALL, the original , who was a , had a dancing school, and, consequently, balls in the Theatre; his wife kept the tavern and ordinary, opposite, frequented by actors, young lawyers, city youths, &c. In this Playhouse there were frequently concerts, also exhibitions of showmen, &c. It was afterwards in part occupied by a fencing-master, and latterly by auctioneers, and many curiosities and elegant articles of cabinet work and furniture were sold there by the for the disposal of which, the respectability of the situation was well adapted.

 
 
Footnotes:

[*] The Beggar's Opera had been offered to the company of Drury Lane, and was refused.

[*] This opera produced a mania in town; it totally changed the character of the rising generations, and, as the annals of police too fatally evince, was admired for its licentiousness, by those who did not understand its wit, while, also, from want of education, they were totally incapable of being impressed with its political irony, and were, alas! too callous to receive any benefit from the moral tendency, if any moral benefit was contemplated by its author.

[*] He built Sheppard's Market, Curzon Street, May Fair, &c., and was an eminent surveyor: we believe the business of surveying was, in a great degree, divided between Morley and himself.

[*] Who was so like Rich, it was impossible to know them asunder, as poor Nat once found to his cost.

[*] In January, 1717, one Swart, a German, brought over two dogs, whom he had taught to dance the Louvre and Minuet; they were immediately engaged by RICH at ten pounds per night, and brought twenty full houses, while the Othello of Booth, the Wildair of Wilks, and the Foppington of Cibber, were neglected, and did not bring charges. Swarts, whose great ancestor invented powder Gunpowder was invented, or rather revived, in 1330, by Barthold Swarts, a German apothecary at Nuremberg, whose process of making it became public, and was soon followed by the invention of ordnance, then called Bombards, and by the Scots, the Cracks of War., Nightly contrives to make us CLAP still louder; Encouraged by the learn'd sagacious Rich, Assisted by his pantomimic switch TheMagician's Rod. We plaud the Minuet of his DOG and BITCH: Of Cibber, Wilks, and Booth, we coldly speak: Rich spends in Dog's Meat, sixty pounds per week; While puppies, male and female, crowd in flocks, He laughs, and puts nine hundred in his box.

[*] In the Rape of Proserpine.

[*] Miss Morceau.

[*] These were probably part of the goods, or rather the properties of Christopher Rich, Esq., our hero's father, an inventory of which makes so considerable a figure in the fifteenth number of The Tatler, on his removal from Drury Lane to Lincoln's Inn Fields.

[*] The Universal Spectator, 1735, says, "I have information that a number of apprentices and gentlemen, who play for amusement, have formed a new company in York Buildings Sir Richard Steele built this room for Oratory and Music., which shows the necessity for the number of playhouses to be regulated, or else the nation may degenerate into a set of stage players."

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 Title Page
collapseCourts, Halls, and Public Buildings
collapseSchools
collapseAlms-Houses, Hospitals, &c.
collapsePlaces of Amusement
collapseMiscellaneous Objects of Antiquity
collapseAncient and Modern Theatres
collapseTheatres
The Bull and the Bear Baiting,
The Red Bull Playhouse, Clerkenwell.
Fortune Theatre
Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre
D'Avenant's Theatre Otherwise the Duke's Theatre, Little Lincoln's Inn Fields
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Destruction of Drury Lane Theatre by Fire
Opening of Drury Lane New Theatre
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden
The New Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.
Theatre Royal, Haymarket
New Theatre Royal, Haymarket
The King's Theatre, or the Italian Opera, Haymarket
Theatre in Goodman's Fields. The whole of Goodman's Fields was formerly a farm belonging to the Abbey of Nuns, of the Order of St. Clare, called the Minories or Minoresses, from certain poor ladies of that order; and so late as the time of Stow, when he wrote his Survey in 1598, was let out in gardens, and for grazing horses. One Trolop, and afterwards Goodman, were the farmers there. But Goodman's son being heir by his father's purchase, let the grounds in parcels, and lived like a gentleman on its produce. He lies buried in St. Botolph's church, Aldgate.
The Royalty Theatre, Wellclose Square
The Tennis Court Theatre, Bear Yard, Little Lincoln's Inn Fields
Olympic Theatre, Newcastle Street, Strand
Sadler's Wells.
The Pantheon Theatre, Oxford Street
Strand Theatre, the Sans Pareil
Astley's Amphitheatre, Westminster Road
The Regency Theatre. Tottenham Street Tottenham Court Road
The Cobourg Theatre
Royal Circus or Surrey Theatre
Lyceum Theatre, or English Opera, Strand.
Theatre in Tankard Street, Ipswich
Checks and Tickets of Admission to the public Theatres and other Places of Amusement.

Title page of Vol. 2 reads: Theatrum illustrata. Graphic and historic memorials of ancient playhouses, modern theatres and other places of public amusement in the cities and suburbs of London & Westminster with scenic and incidental illustrations from the time of Shakspear to the present period.

This object is in collection:
Edwin C. Bolles papers
Subjects
London (England)--Antiquities
London (England)--Description and Travel
Wilkinson, Robert, d. ca. 1825
Bolles, Edwin Courtlandt
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/53839
ID: tufts:MS004.002.057.001.00001
To Cite: DCA Citation Guide
Usage: Detailed Rights