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 in Tankard Street, Ipswich.

Theatre in Tankard Street, Ipswich.

Theatre in Tankard Street Ipswich, where Garrick made his first public appearance, 21st July 1741.

Every subject which casts new light towards a Memoir on so justly celebrated a person as the late David Garrick, will doubtless be received with pleasure by those at present living who have witnessed his wonderful performances; as well as those to whom he is only known by traditionary anecdotes, handed to posterity by contemporary persons with himself. The Ipswich Theatre, therefore, becomes doubly interesting, both as a topographical illustration of its county history; and, as connected with the metropolitan theatres, in being, as it were, the very cradle of that surprising genius the BRITISH ROSCIUS! Garrick having made his first public appearance on the boards of this Theatre, on the 21st July 1741, in the character of Captain Duretête, in Farquhar's comedy of the Inconstant, or the Way to win Him. Though it is generally supposed his first part was that of Aboan, in Southern's tragedy of Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave; prior to the date of his appearance under the name of Lyddall.

It always is a matter of curiosity and research to learn from what source the foundation or spring is derived, from which public institutions or buildings take their rise; the earliest information we can collect concerning Ipswich theatricals is from the following play-bill.It is probable, that theatrical representations were first established at Ipswich, and some serious accident happened at a theatrical representation there, about 1729. In that year was published A Prelude to the Plays; or, a few serious Questions, proposed to the Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, that frequent the Playhouse; which they are desired to answer deliberately to themselves, before they go again to those Diversions. Of this octavo tract there were two editions in the same year, and the SECOND is dedicated "To the worshipful the Bailiffs and other Magistrates of His Majesty's ancient Corporation of Ipswich, or any others in like Places of Trust and Honour, through His Majesty's Dominions." One of the questions begins: "Could you never think that there was a rebuke of divine Providence upon those that attended these plays; when in Ipswich, and other places, their building fell down, to the hurt of many, and the fright of many more?" "By the Duke of Grafton's Servants,

At the Shire-Hall, in Ipswich, on Monday, 29th November 1731, will be acted a Play, called King Henry the Fourth, &c. with several entertainments.—By Command we shall begin at Six o'Clock. Vivat Rex.

N. B. Mr. Buck teaches Back-Sword, Small-Sword, and Quarter-Staff, during the Stay of the Company in Town, as usual."

Nothing concerning any theatrical performances at Ipswich has come to our knowledge, from the above period until the year 1739, when the following notice is extracted from the Ipswich Journal, of Saturday, June 30, 1739. "By the Norwich Company of Comedians, At the New Theatre in Tankard Street, Ipswich, On Monday, the 2nd July, will be acted a Play, called CATO. Cato by Mr. Pitt Sempronius Mr. Woodward Lucius Mr. Drury Juba Mr. Smith Syphax Mr. Buck Portius Mr. Bawtree Marcus by Mr. Upton Decius Mr. Slaiter Women Marcia by Mrs. Plomer Lucia Mrs. Slaiter. With new Roman and Numidian Dresses proper to the Play. To which will be added, a new Ballad Opera, called THE TANNER OF YORK, OR A LUCKY DISCOVERY.

The Company will begin at 7 o'Clock exactly during this Season, which will be no longer than one Week after the Races. Tickets to be had at the White Horse, and at Potter's Coffee House." The following week there is an advertisement for the performance of King John. The actors' names all the same.

In the Ipswich Journal for Saturday, Oct. 20, 1739, is an advertisement for a Musical Clock, various Automata, and a Pantomime Entertainment, under the name of The Noted Medley, from London. Side Boxes 1s. 6d.—Pit 1s.—Gal. 6d.—Upper Gal. 3d.

In the Ipswich Journals for 1740 there are no play-bills. From the Ipswich Journal, January 10, 1741. "By a Company of Commedians, At the New Theatre in Tankard Street, on Tuesday next, will be acted a Comedy, called THE BUSY BODY. To which will be added a Ballad Opera, called THE LOVER HIS OWN RIVAL. To begin exactly at Six o'Clock."

The following week is an advertisement by the same company, in which the performers' names are as follow: Mr. Cuthbert, Mr. Freeman, Mr. Whitaker, Mr. Grimes, Mr. Adams, Mr. Daniel, Mr. Phœnix, Mr. Irish, Mr. Hasleup; Mrs. Whitaker, Mrs. Cuthbert, Mrs. Hasleup, Mrs. Daniel.

The following three weeks continue the same names, with the addition of young Phœnix; and repeated, Monday, the 16th of February, 1741.

On Saturday, March 7th, was advertised the MISER and the DEVIL TO PAY; with an Address of Thanks to the Town, by Mrs. Daniel, for the Benefit of Mr. Henry Betts, towards the Charge of the House.

(Mr. Henry Betts was the proprietor of the Theatre, and the reversionary right of the present Theatre is vested in his descendants.) Ipswich Journal, May 30, 1741. "By Desire, By a Company of Comedians from the Theatres in London, At the Playhouse in Tankard Street, on Monday, the 1st of June, will be performed a Comedy, called THE MISER. To which will be added, THE MILLER OF MANSFIELD. N. B. The Company perform every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. To begin exactly at Seven o Clock."

On the 8th of June was performed the Spanish Fryar, the characters as follow: Torrismond . . . . Mrs. Paget The Queen . . . . Mrs. Yates Bertram . . . . . . Mr. Crofts Raymond . . . . . . Mr. Vaughan Alphonso . . . . . . Mr. Julian Pedro . . . . Mr. Marr The Fryar Mr. Dunstall Lorenzo . . Mr. Giffard Elvira . . Mrs. Dunstall Theresa. . . Miss Hippesley And the Part of Gomez by Mr. Yates.

From this time the company continued performing without any new name appearing in the bills, till Saturday, the 18th of July, when the following advertisement appears: "For the Benefit of Mr. Marr and Miss Hippesley, By a Company of Comedians from the Theatres in London, At the Playhouse in Tankard Street, on Tuesday, the 21st of July, will be performed a Comedy, called THE INCONSTANT, OR THE WAY TO WIN HIM. Young Mirable . . . . . . by Mr. Giffard Captain Duretête . . . . by Mr. LyddallIt is a well-known and established fact, that Garrick played here under the name of Lyddall; and though this is the first notice of him by that name in the Ipswich Journals, yet it appears pretty evidently he had sustained several principal parts in the same Theatre for upwards of a month prior to the name of Lyddall being announced, which the following singular circumstance will fully bear us out in asserting, viz. that on June 10th, in the same year, the part of Lord Foppington, in the Careless Husband; on the 12th, Orestes, in the Distrest Mother; on the 22nd, Ventrebleu and Roger Rakeit, in Lethe; on the 24th, Sir Harry Wildair, in the Constant Couple; on the 26th, Chamont, in the Orphan; and on July 10th, Orestes, in the Distrest Mother, were represented at this Theatre, yet no name of performer appears in the bills attached to either of the characters; and when we consider the contrariety of character, and all principal! in tragedy! comedy! and farce! who but such a phænomenon as Garrick could have supported the Herculean labour, of rendering himself greatly eminent in all? This, however, was soon afterwards made manifest, by his prodigious success at the Goodman's Field Theatre, in the arduous and trying part of Richard the Third, in the following October; that the whole season lasted with that performance alone, and was so attractive, that the carriages of the nobility and gentry filled the whole space from Temple Bar to Whitechapel, every time this matchless performer appeared. The second time the name of Lyddall appeared in the Ipswich Journal was on Tuesday, the 28th July, when he performed the part of Dr, Caius, in the Merry Wives of Windsor; and, as Dr. Burney conjectures, Harlequin in the afterpiece; and was by the manager deemed so attractive, that the name of no other actor appears in the bill. The same company continued playing to the 12th of August, but the dramatis personæ are not given in the bills.—It appears that Paget, one of this company, published, in September, a poem, called a Voyage to Ipswich. Bisarre . . . . . . . . . . . . by Miss Hippesley At the End of the Second Act, a Pantomime Dance, called the Drunken Peasant: Peasant by Mr. Yates, Clown by Mr. Vaughan. To which will be added, a new dramatic Satire (as it was performed last Winter at the Theatre in Goodman's Fields, with great Applause), called LETHE, OR AESOP IN THE SHADES. Aesop by Mr. Giffard; Ventrebleu and Sir Roger Rakeit by Mr. Lyddall; Sir Wittling Rattle, Mr. Marr; Macboggin, Mr. Yates Scrape, the Attorney, Mr. Paget; Mercury, Mrs. Dunstall; Charon, Mr. Dunstall; Lady Rakeit, Mrs. Yates; Mr. Thomas, Mr. Crofts; Miss Lucy, Miss Hippesley: that Scene being a Sequel to the Virgin Unmasked, with an Epilogue, by Miss Hippesley. To begin exactly at Seven o'Clock. Tickets to be had, and Places to be taken at Mr. Rook's, opposite to the Theatre."

In December 1741, Yeates's Company performed Ballad Operas and Pantomimes for three Weeks.—Boxes 2s.—Pit 1s. 6d.— Gal. 1s.—Upp. Gal. 6d.

On the 15th of May 1742, the Norwich Company advertise their performances at Woodbridge; most of the actors' names the same as in 1739. And on the 19th of June 1742, the Company from the Theatres in London announce Richard the Third, and the Lying Valet, written by Mr. Garrick (as it was performed upwards of thirty nights successively, with universal applause, at the Theatre in Goodman's Fields, London.) On this occasion a Mr. Peterson played Richard. The same Company advertise no more till the 3rd of August, when (by desire of Lady Barker) they played the Miser and the Lying Valet; and closed their season on the 18th of August, announcing for the 17th Othello and the Lying Valet.

In 1743, the Norwich Comnany played in the autumn at Woodbridge and Saxmundham, and in December at the Playhouse in Tankard Street, Ipswich; after which, to the end of 1746, the Norwich Company appear to have had two seasons yearly at the Theatre in Tankard Street, which is in use for that purpose to the present time.

The Ipswich Theatre has undergone much alteration since the time of Garrick's performances on those boards. About twenty years since it was rebuilt, or rather re-edified, most part of the old walls being incorporated in the present building, which at that time was new fronted and decorated with a heavy colonade; since removed, which gives the aspect of the building the exact resemblance as represented in the Plate. The building to the right, with the bench and figures before it, is the Tankard Tavern; in use to the present time as a Tavern, though that has undergone some alteration since the period our drawing was taken; the windows at present being much improved by widening; the gateway, under the window, is the passage to the Pit; the boarded gateway next the Tavern, probably, is the entrance way to the Upper Gallery and Stage Door.

By the play-bills it appears, that when Garrick made his debut as an actor, he was already before the public as an author: his Farce of Lethe having been performed at the Theatre in Drury Lane, on Tuesday, 15th April, 1740, after the play of the Careless Husband, as a "New Dramatic Satire, called Lethe, or Aesop in the Shades," for the benefit of Mr. Gifford. It is believed, that this farce was also produced in Goodman's Fields, in the winter of 1740-1. This fact appears to have been unknown to Murphy, who places his Lethe after his Lying Valet. The play-bill of Saturday, the 18th of July, 1741, does not militate against the fact of Aboan's being the first part he played.

††† For much of the above particulars we gratefully acknowledge our immediate obligation to the liberal communication of Mrs. J. Cobbold, of Holywells, near Ipswich.

 

Every subject which casts new light towards a Memoir on so justly celebrated a person as the late David Garrick, will doubtless be received with pleasure by those at present living who have witnessed his wonderful performances; as well as those to whom he is only known by traditionary anecdotes, handed to posterity by contemporary persons with himself. The Ipswich Theatre, therefore, becomes doubly interesting, both as a topographical illustration of its county history; and, as connected with the metropolitan theatres, in being, as it were, the very cradle of that surprising genius the BRITISH ROSCIUS! Garrick having made his public appearance on the boards of this Theatre, on the , in the character of Captain Duretête, in Farquhar's comedy of the Inconstant, or the Way to win Him. Though it is generally supposed his part was that of Aboan, in Southern's tragedy of Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave; prior to the date of his appearance under the name of Lyddall.

It always is a matter of curiosity and research to learn from what source the foundation or spring is derived, from which public institutions or buildings take their rise; the earliest information we can collect concerning Ipswich theatricals is from the following play-bill.[*] 

At the Shire-Hall, in Ipswich, on Monday, , will be acted a Play, called King Henry the , &c. with several entertainments.—By Command we shall begin at o'Clock. Vivat Rex.

N. B. Mr. Buck teaches Back-Sword, Small-Sword, and Quarter-Staff, during the Stay of the Company in Town, as usual."

Nothing concerning any theatrical performances at Ipswich has come to our knowledge, from the above period until the year , when the following notice is extracted from the Ipswich Journal, of Saturday, .

 Cato by Mr. Pitt 
 Sempronius Mr. Woodward 
 Lucius Mr. Drury 
 Juba Mr. Smith 
 Syphax Mr. Buck 
 Portius Mr. Bawtree 
 Marcus by Mr. Upton 
 Decius Mr. Slaiter 
   Women   
 Marcia by Mrs. Plomer 
 Lucia Mrs. Slaiter. 

The Company will begin at o'Clock exactly during this Season, which will be no longer than Week after the Races.

In the Ipswich Journal for Saturday, , is an advertisement for a Musical Clock, various Automata, and a Pantomime Entertainment, under the name of The Noted Medley, from London.

In the Ipswich Journals for there are no play-bills.

The following week is an advertisement by the same company, in which the performers' names are as follow: Mr. Cuthbert, Mr. Freeman, Mr. Whitaker, Mr. Grimes, Mr. Adams, Mr. Daniel, Mr. Phœnix, Mr. Irish, Mr. Hasleup; Mrs. Whitaker, Mrs. Cuthbert, Mrs. Hasleup, Mrs. Daniel.

The following weeks continue the same names, with the addition of young Phœnix; and repeated, Monday, the .

On Saturday, , was advertised the MISER and the DEVIL TO PAY; with an Address of Thanks to the Town, by Mrs. Daniel, for the Benefit of Mr. Henry Betts, towards the Charge of the House.

(Mr. Henry Betts was the proprietor of the Theatre, and the reversionary right of the present Theatre is vested in his descendants.)

196

 

On the was performed the Spanish Fryar, the characters as follow:

 Torrismond . . . . Mrs. Paget 
 The Queen . . . . Mrs. Yates 
 Bertram . . . . . . Mr. Crofts 
 Raymond . . . . . . Mr. Vaughan 
 Alphonso . . . . . . Mr. Julian 
 Pedro . . . . Mr. Marr 
 The Fryar Mr. Dunstall 
 Lorenzo . . Mr. Giffard 
 Elvira . . Mrs. Dunstall 
 Theresa. . . Miss Hippesley 

From this time the company continued performing without any new name appearing in the bills, till Saturday, the , when the following advertisement appears:

 Young Mirable . . . . . . by Mr. Giffard 
 Captain Duretête . . . . by Mr. LyddallIt is a well-known and established fact, that Garrick played here under the name of Lyddall; and though this is the first notice of him by that name in the Ipswich Journals, yet it appears pretty evidently he had sustained several principal parts in the same Theatre for upwards of a month prior to the name of Lyddall being announced, which the following singular circumstance will fully bear us out in asserting, viz. that on June 10th, in the same year, the part of Lord Foppington, in the Careless Husband; on the 12th, Orestes, in the Distrest Mother; on the 22nd, Ventrebleu and Roger Rakeit, in Lethe; on the 24th, Sir Harry Wildair, in the Constant Couple; on the 26th, Chamont, in the Orphan; and on July 10th, Orestes, in the Distrest Mother, were represented at this Theatre, yet no name of performer appears in the bills attached to either of the characters; and when we consider the contrariety of character, and all principal! in tragedy! comedy! and farce! who but such a phænomenon as Garrick could have supported the Herculean labour, of rendering himself greatly eminent in all? This, however, was soon afterwards made manifest, by his prodigious success at the Goodman's Field Theatre, in the arduous and trying part of Richard the Third, in the following October; that the whole season lasted with that performance alone, and was so attractive, that the carriages of the nobility and gentry filled the whole space from Temple Bar to Whitechapel, every time this matchless performer appeared. The second time the name of Lyddall appeared in the Ipswich Journal was on Tuesday, the 28th July, when he performed the part of Dr, Caius, in the Merry Wives of Windsor; and, as Dr. Burney conjectures, Harlequin in the afterpiece; and was by the manager deemed so attractive, that the name of no other actor appears in the bill. The same company continued playing to the 12th of August, but the dramatis personæ are not given in the bills.—It appears that Paget, one of this company, published, in September, a poem, called a Voyage to Ipswich. 
 Bisarre . . . . . . . . . . . . by Miss Hippesley 

In , Yeates's Company performed Ballad Operas and Pantomimes for Weeks.—Boxes —Pit — Gal. —Upp. Gal.

On the , the Norwich Company advertise their performances at Woodbridge; most of the actors' names the same as in . And on the , the Company from the Theatres in London announce Richard the , and the Lying Valet, written by Mr. Garrick (as it was performed upwards of nights successively, with universal applause, at the Theatre in , London.) On this occasion a Mr. Peterson played Richard. The same Company advertise no more till the , when (by desire of Lady Barker) they played the Miser and the Lying Valet; and closed their season on the , announcing for the Othello and the Lying Valet.

In , the Norwich Comnany played in the autumn at Woodbridge and Saxmundham, and in December at the Playhouse in Tankard Street, Ipswich; after which, to the end of , the Norwich Company appear to have had seasons yearly at the Theatre in Tankard Street, which is in use for that purpose to the present time.

The Ipswich Theatre has undergone much alteration since the time of Garrick's performances on those boards. About years since it was rebuilt, or rather re-edified, most part of the old walls being incorporated in the present building, which at that time was new fronted and decorated with a heavy colonade; since removed, which gives the aspect of the building the exact resemblance as represented in the Plate. The building to the right, with the bench and figures before it, is the Tankard Tavern; in use to the present time as a Tavern, though that has undergone some alteration since the period our drawing was taken; the windows at present being much improved by widening; the gateway, under the window, is the passage to the Pit; the boarded gateway next the Tavern, probably, is the entrance way to the Upper Gallery and Stage Door.

By the play-bills it appears, that when Garrick made his debut as an actor, he was already before the public as an author: his Farce of having been performed at the Theatre in , on Tuesday, , after the play of the Careless Husband, as a "New Dramatic Satire, called Lethe, or Aesop in the Shades," for the benefit of Mr. Gifford. It is believed, that this farce was also produced in , in the winter of -. This fact appears to have been unknown to Murphy, who places his Lethe after his Lying Valet. The play-bill of Saturday, the , does not militate against the fact of Aboan's being the part he played.

†††

 
 
Footnotes:

[*] It is probable, that theatrical representations were first established at Ipswich, and some serious accident happened at a theatrical representation there, about 1729. In that year was published A Prelude to the Plays; or, a few serious Questions, proposed to the Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, that frequent the Playhouse; which they are desired to answer deliberately to themselves, before they go again to those Diversions. Of this octavo tract there were two editions in the same year, and the SECOND is dedicated "To the worshipful the Bailiffs and other Magistrates of His Majesty's ancient Corporation of Ipswich, or any others in like Places of Trust and Honour, through His Majesty's Dominions." One of the questions begins: "Could you never think that there was a rebuke of divine Providence upon those that attended these plays; when in Ipswich, and other places, their building fell down, to the hurt of many, and the fright of many more?"

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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