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 2Wilkinson, Robert
Strand Theatre, the Sans Pareil.
This Theatre commenced building in the year , by removing old ruinous houses, formerly part of the estate of the Earls of Bedford, near which their mansion was situated, with the Convent Garden behind it. There is an ancient well on the premises, as fine a spring as any in the county of Middlesex; and several silver coins of Elizabeth's reign were found in digging the foundation.
The estate was purchased, the land-tax redeemed, and the Theatre wholly built from its foundation by Mr. John Scott, resident in the neighbourhood, out of his own private fortune, unaided by subscription or loan, at an expense of ; and was opened on the , under an annual licence of the Lord Chamberlain, to commence and end in the month of October.
The entertainments during that season consisted of a mechanical and optical exhibition, with songs, recitations, imitations, and various interludes.
In , , the House opened for its season, with an address to Hope, written and spoken by Miss Scott, daughter of the proprietor, then a very young lady; but who possessed an uncommon taste and genius for dramatic poetry, music, and the stage.
Mr. Giroux, a dancing-master of celebrity, with part of his family, and about of his pupils and apprentices, joined this concern, and several ballets were produced under their direction.
This season Miss Scott's dramatic genius produced a melo-drama, called Ulthona, the Sorceress, in which she performed herself; the music was composed by Mr. Holst, and it had a run of nights. Her production was a burletta, The Magistrate, equally prosperous.
During every succeeding season the concern has been well supported, with entire new and successful pieces, and a great influx of audience; the dramatic company also being enlarged the stage was found to be much too contracted for the business of the Theatre.
In , immediately on its close in the month of April, the whole of the south end next , was taken down, all the interior removed, and feet added to the length of the Theatre; of which feet were given to the stage, and feet to the audience part; additional boxes were added; the front house next was purchased, and a new and handsome entrance made. This was completed in about months, at an expense of , and the Theatre re-opened on Monday, , in the same year.
The structure is most advantageously situated, either for a winter or summer Theatre, being in the best part of , nearly opposite the .
The particulars of the house are as follow: from the front next to the back of the stage, depth feet, feet wide, and feet high from the foundation. Under the pit, which is elevated feet above the foundation, is a convenient range of dressing-rooms; under the stage, a green or waiting room, and another for the band.
The pit ranges entirely under the boxes, and is rather out of proportion large; it holds upwards of persons: there are boxes, in tiers, which will contain, in sitting and standing room, persons.
The building contains but gallery, which will hold persons. So that, by calculation, the house, at the present prices of boxes , pit , gallery , on a very full night, will hold about .
There is a large and convenient room for scene-painting, feet by , and cisterns for water in the top, supplied by a hydraulic pump from the well in the bottom.
The foot-lights, now adopted in many of the other houses, were introduced here. The advantage is, they light the stage without obstructing the sight of the audience from the pit.
In the summers of and , in consequence of the alteration and enlargement of the stage, new suits of scenery were painted.
The whole of this property, now in the possession of its original proprietor, is freehold, and unincumbered by renters or annuitants.
The following new and original dramas have been wholly written by Miss Scott, none of which having been published, of course remain stock pieces, the property of this Theatre, and cannot be performed elsewhere, unless by permission, viz.:
The following pieces translated, and others; the whole re-written and adapted to this stage:
And a very great variety of serious and comic pantomimes, and other spectacles and interludes.
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.