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

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Internal View of the Old Theatre Royal Drury Lane, as it appeared in 1792:—North West View of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, from Great Russell Street.

The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

The Cockpit in Drury Lane was one of the six playhouses allowed in London, in the reign of King Charles I. for the acting of stage plays, which continued to be performed until the breaking out of the civil wars; when the flight of the King from the metropolis left the prevailing party and parliament in full power both with respect to church and state; who conceiving dramatic amusements as serving no other ends than corrupting the morals of the people, suppressed every diversion of that kind, with the exception of the Red Bull Theatre in St. John Street, where feats of activity and drolls were only permitted to be performed. On the restoration of Charles II. theatrical amusements were revived, and the scattered remains of the six companies formed themselves into two, and performed under the title of the King's and Duke's Servants. The former, under Killigrew (who had obtained a patent from the King), built them a new Theatre in Drury Lane, on the site of the Cockpit,The Cockpit had been pulled down and rebuilt, as it appears, that, March 4, 1617, "the Playhouse lately erected in Drury Lane was pulled down by the mob, and all the apparel torn in pieces." Downes's Roscius Anglicanus, p. 1, 1789. There was another Theatre in Drury Lane, denominated the Phœnix, but Killigrew's building was evidently on the site of the Cockpit. The old Playhouses, if we are to judge by the quantity in London and its vicinity at one time, must have been very small buildings, and accounts for the ease with which one might be pulled down in a day which was opened on Thursday April 8th, 1663, with the Humorous Lieutenant, which was acted twelve days successively, the characters being, King . . . . Mr. Wintersel. Demetrius . . . Mr. Hart. Seleucus . . . Mr. Burt. Leontius . . . Major Mohun. Lieutenant . . . Mr. Clun. Celia . . . . Mrs. Marshal.

The play began at three o'clock exactly; boxes 4s., pit 2s. 6d., gallery 1s. 6d., upper gallery, 1s.

The introduction of females on the stage first took place at this period, and the Drury Lane Company being strengthened with Mrs. Eleanor Gwynn, a known favourite and mistress of the King, could not fail of being attractive and drawing great profit and company to the Theatre, which from this time was called, and has ever since been styled, "Theatre Royal." In January, 1672, Drury Lane Theatre was burnt, with from fifty to sixty houses in the neighbourhood; and in 1674 a new Theatre, built by Sir Christopher Wren, opened March 26th with a Prologue and Epilogue by Dryden; and in the same year all stage-plays were suppressed. In 1682 the Duke's Servants formed an union with the King's Company, and removed from the Theatre in Dorset Garden to that of Drury Lane; and became incorporated his Majesty's Servants. Colley Cibber, in noticing this transaction, says, "One only Theatre being now in possession of the whole town, the united patentees imposed their terms upon the actors; for the profits of acting were then divided into twenty shares, ten of which went to the proprietors, and the other moiety to the principal actors, in such subdivisions as their different merit might pretend to. This occasioned great contentions from time to time between the patentees and performers, which arose to such an height, that Mr. Betterton, in 1693, having consulted a few of the principal persons in the Theatre, and interested several of the nobility to aid them in a scheme to obtain an independent licence to perform on their own account, they shortly after had the honour of an audience of the King, who graciously dismissed Mr. Betterton and his adherents, with an assurance of relief and support; and accordingly a select number of them were empowered by his royal licence to perform for themselves at the Tennis Court Theatre, Bear Yard, Little Lincoln's Inn Fields; where they performed Congreve's Love for Love with extraordinary success, and for a time carried on the concern with great spirit. This secession of the actors arose from the parsimonious conduct of Mr. Christopher Rich, who had purchased the patent of Charles D'Avenant. In 1703 the two Theatres united, on which occasion Farquhar wrote a Prologue, under Rich's direction. Soon after this, Sir Thomas Skipwith, who had a share in the patent, and disgusted with the conduct of the property, in a fit of generosity gave his share to a Colonel Brett, who by great prudence so much improved it, that Sir Thomas applied to the Court of Chancery for restitution; obtained it, and soon after lost it at a gaming table. In 1709, by order of the Lord Chamberlain, the house was closed; and the same year one Collier obtained permission to re-open the Theatre; to effect which, on the 22d of November, he forcibly excluded Rich from the premises, where he continued acting till Cibber, Doggett, and Wilks' management commenced. On the 19th of January, 1712, Sir Richard Steele had his name inserted in the patent for his life, and three years after: this was granted to him because both the existing patents were in one person's hands. In 1713 Mr. Booth came into the management, in opposition to Doggett, who retired. Sir Richard Steele dying in 1729, Booth, Wilks, and Cibber severally sold out, and Mr. Highmore commenced manager; when the performers, led on by Theophilus Cibber, revolted, and acted for themselves at the little Theatre in the Haymarket; which so much perplexed Highmore, as to involve him in the greatest difficulties, and finally being ruined, the patent and management came into the hands of Fleetwood in 1736, who carried on the concern with various success ten years. On the 5th of March, 1737, the servants, who had been deprived of the former privilege of the use of the gallery gratis, forced their way in; the ringleaders were secured and sent to Newgate, and on the 23d of April following five were tried at Hicks's Hall, and sentenced to hard labour: they had made an unsuccessful attempt the February previous. In the year 1743, November 8, a riot took place in the Theatre, while the King (George II.) was present: from which time the guards have regularly attended. In 1745 the patent was advertised for sale, when Messrs. Lacy and Garrick became the purchasers, Mr. Garrick paying down 8000l. and Mr. Lacy the remainder, the whole purchase being 12,000l.; Fleetwood retiring with an annuity of 600l. The house was this year enlarged, and opened with a prologue by Dr. Johnson. In 1761, the price to the boxes was 5s., pit 3s., gallery 2s., upper gallery 1s. 1762, on the 26th of October, Garrick and Lacy's patent was renewed for 21 years. 1763, a riot on the 25th and 26th of January, about not taking half price to new pieces. 1765, when Garrick returned from Italy he removed the circular frames which lighted the stage. 1774, Mr. Lacy dying, his share became the property of his son, Mr. Willoughby Lacy. 1776, Sheridan, Ewart, Dr. Ford, and Linley purchased Garrick's share of the patent for 35,000l.; new shares, to the amount of 1200l., had been previously raised—considerable alterations, both internal and external, were made to the house. 1778, the Theatre was closed for two nights, in consequence of Lacy's having made an illegal sale of his share to a Mr. Thomson and Langford, but the purchase was not allowed to stand. 1788, Sheridan and Linley became possessed of the whole property. 1791, June 4, Old Drury Lane Theatre finally closed, with an address by Palmer. The following day the papers stated, "Last night died Madam Drury, who lived in six reigns, and was 117 years old." 1793, the New Theatre was covered in, November 2d. 1794, opened March 12th, with Oratorios, and on April 21st with Macbeth and the Virgin Unmasked; both pieces played four following nights. 1812, Board of Management instituted in September, Sir R. Ford, Justice Graham, Richard Wilson, Alderman Combe, Edward Morris. 1806, a night's receipt 771l.—1,888 boxes, 800 pit, 675 gallery, 238 upper gallery. 1809, February 24th, burnt down; 35,000l. insured—British 5000l., Imperial 13,500l., Hope 10,000l., Eagle 6500l. The last performance on the 23d, was a new opera by Ward, the present secretary, and brother-in-law to the late Mrs. Sheridan.

 

 

The Cockpit in was of the playhouses allowed in London, in the reign of King Charles I. for the acting of stage plays, which continued to be performed until the breaking out of the civil wars; when the flight of the King from the metropolis left the prevailing party and parliament in full power both with respect to church and state; who conceiving dramatic amusements as serving no other ends than corrupting the morals of the people, suppressed every diversion of that kind, with the exception of the Red Bull Theatre in , where feats of activity and drolls were only permitted to be performed. On the restoration of Charles II. theatrical amusements were revived, and the scattered remains of the companies formed themselves into , and performed under the title of the King's and Duke's Servants. The former, under Killigrew (who had obtained a patent from the King), built them a new Theatre in , on the site of the Cockpit,[*]  which was opened on Thursday , with the Humorous Lieutenant, which was acted days successively, the characters being,

 King . . . . Mr. Wintersel. 
 Demetrius . . . Mr. Hart. 
 Seleucus . . . Mr. Burt. 
 Leontius . . . Major Mohun. 
 Lieutenant . . . Mr. Clun. 
 Celia . . . . Mrs. Marshal. 

The play began at o'clock exactly; boxes , pit , gallery , upper gallery,

The introduction of females on the stage took place at this period, and the Company being strengthened with Mrs. Eleanor Gwynn, a known favourite and mistress of the King, could not fail of being attractive and drawing great profit and company to the Theatre, which from this time was called, and has ever since been styled, "Theatre Royal." In , was burnt, with from to houses in the neighbourhood; and in a new Theatre, built by Sir Christopher Wren, opened with a Prologue and Epilogue by Dryden; and in the same year all stage-plays were suppressed. In the Duke's Servants formed an union with the King's Company, and removed from the Theatre in Dorset Garden to that of ; and became incorporated his Majesty's Servants. Colley Cibber, in noticing this transaction, says, " only Theatre being now in possession of the whole town, the united patentees imposed their terms upon the actors; for the profits of acting were then divided into shares, of which went to the proprietors, and the other moiety to the principal actors, in such subdivisions as their different merit might pretend to. This occasioned great contentions from time to time between the patentees and performers, which arose to such an height, that Mr. Betterton, in , having consulted a few of the principal persons in the Theatre, and interested several of the nobility to aid them in a scheme to obtain an independent licence to perform on their own account, they shortly after had the honour of an audience of the King, who graciously dismissed Mr. Betterton and his adherents, with an assurance of relief and support; and accordingly a select number of them were empowered by his royal licence to perform for themselves at the Tennis Court Theatre, Bear Yard, Little ; where they performed Congreve's Love for Love with extraordinary success, and for a time carried on the concern with great spirit. This secession of the actors arose from the parsimonious conduct of Mr. Christopher Rich, who had purchased the patent of Charles D'Avenant. In the Theatres united, on which occasion Farquhar wrote a Prologue, under Rich's direction. Soon after this, Sir Thomas Skipwith, who had a share in the patent, and disgusted with the conduct of the property, in a fit of generosity gave his share to a Colonel Brett, who by great prudence so much improved it, that Sir Thomas applied to the Court of Chancery for restitution; obtained it, and soon after lost it at a gaming table. In , by order of the Lord Chamberlain, the house was closed; and the same year Collier obtained permission to re-open the Theatre; to effect which, on the d of November, he forcibly excluded Rich from the premises, where he continued acting till Cibber, Doggett, and Wilks' management commenced. On the , Sir Richard Steele had his name inserted in the patent for his life, and years after: this was granted to him because both the existing patents were in person's hands. In Mr. Booth came into the management, in opposition to Doggett, who retired. Sir Richard Steele dying in , Booth, Wilks, and Cibber severally sold out, and Mr. Highmore commenced manager; when the performers, led on by Theophilus Cibber, revolted, and acted for themselves at the little Theatre in the ; which so much perplexed Highmore, as to involve him in the greatest difficulties, and finally being ruined, the patent and management came into the hands of Fleetwood in , who carried on the concern with various success years. On the , the servants, who had been deprived of the former privilege of the use of the gallery gratis, forced their way in; the ringleaders were secured and sent to Newgate, and on the d of April following were tried at Hicks's Hall, and sentenced to hard labour: they had made an unsuccessful attempt the February previous. In the year , , a riot took place in the Theatre, while the King (George II.) was present: from which time the guards have regularly attended. In the patent was advertised for sale, when Messrs. Lacy and Garrick became the

152

purchasers, Mr. Garrick paying down and Mr. Lacy the remainder, the whole purchase being ; Fleetwood retiring with an annuity of The house was this year enlarged, and opened with a prologue by Dr. Johnson. In , the price to the boxes was , pit , gallery , upper gallery , on the , Garrick and Lacy's patent was renewed for years. , a riot on the and , about not taking half price to new pieces. , when Garrick returned from Italy he removed the circular frames which lighted the stage. , Mr. Lacy dying, his share became the property of his son, Mr. Willoughby Lacy. , Sheridan, Ewart, Dr. Ford, and Linley purchased Garrick's share of the patent for ; new shares, to the amount of , had been previously raised—considerable alterations, both internal and external, were made to the house. , the Theatre was closed for nights, in consequence of Lacy's having made an illegal sale of his share to a Mr. Thomson and Langford, but the purchase was not allowed to stand. , Sheridan and Linley became possessed of the whole property. , , Old finally closed, with an address by Palmer. The following day the papers stated, "Last night died , who lived in reigns, and was years old." , the New Theatre was covered in, d. , opened , with Oratorios, and on with Macbeth and the Virgin Unmasked; both pieces played following nights. , Board of Management instituted in September, Sir R. Ford, Justice Graham, Richard Wilson, Alderman Combe, Edward Morris. , a night's receipt — boxes, pit, gallery, upper gallery. , , burnt down; insured—British , Imperial , Hope , Eagle The last performance on the d, was a new opera by Ward, the present secretary, and brother-in-law to the late Mrs. Sheridan.

 
 
Footnotes:

[*] The Cockpit had been pulled down and rebuilt, as it appears, that, March 4, 1617, "the Playhouse lately erected in Drury Lane was pulled down by the mob, and all the apparel torn in pieces." Downes's Roscius Anglicanus, p. 1, 1789. There was another Theatre in Drury Lane, denominated the Phœnix, but Killigrew's building was evidently on the site of the Cockpit. The old Playhouses, if we are to judge by the quantity in London and its vicinity at one time, must have been very small buildings, and accounts for the ease with which one might be pulled down in a day

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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