Theatre Royal Haymarket
1720 – Built by carpenter John Potter, on the site of the King’s Head and a gunsmith shop. 1729 – Hurlothrumbo performed for 30 nights. During the 1730′s Henry Fielding produced several satires attacking both political parties and the Royal Family which so incensed the government of the day that censorship of plays by the Lord Chamberlain was introduced in 1737 – the act was not revoked until September 1968.
1737 – Under George II the Licensing Act became law, British citizens attended the theatre in large numbers to voice their grievance which caused the riot act to be enforced by the British Grenadiers and resulted in the closure of the theatre.
1794 – Twenty people died and many injured when a large crowd pushed to see His Majesty who was attending an evening performance.
1820/21 – The old Playhouse was closed and a new theatre was erected slightly further to the south, gaining a pleasing view from St James Square. It was designed by the Royal Court Architect John Nash during the remodelling of Regents Park and Regent Street.
1853 – John Baldwin Buckstone becomes a star at the Theatre Royal with 200 successful productions. His life was the theatre and he is still allegedly still haunting staff.
1862 – 400 nights of Our American Cousin with Edward Southern as Lord Dundreary, adding the word ‘dreary’ to the dictionary. John Buckstone clears more than 30,000 pounds profit.
1873 – A new concept is brought to the theatre: 2:00pm Matinees are introduced
1879 – Ownership of the theatre was taken over by the Bancrofts. The auditorium was reconstructed which enclosed the stage in the first complete picture frame proscenium. The abolition of the pit with the introduction of stalls seating separated by plain iron arms set a formidable precedent and caused a small riot.
1881 Lily Langtry made her debut at the theatre.
1893 – The premiere of Oscar Wilde’s first comedy A Woman of No Importance, followed by An Ideal Husband.
1904 – The Theatre closed for relaying of the foundations front of curtain, which were designed by Stanley Peach.
1939 – Overseen by Stuart Watson the stalls bar was excavated, but not completed until 1941 due to the war. John Gielgud produces a repertory season starting with The Circle and Love for Love, followed by Hamlet.
1962 – John Gielgud directs the School for Scandal with Ralph Richardson, Margaret Rutherford, Anna and Daniel Massey. as well as The Tulip Tree with Celia Johnson, John Clemente and Lynn Redgrave.
1981 – Impresario Louis I Michaels dies. The Theatre is owned by Louis I Michaels Ltd, headed by President, Enid Chanelle with Chairman, Arnold M Crook.
1994 – 1.3 million pounds are invested in major refurbishment work consuming twelve hundred books (each containing 25 x 80mm square sheets) of twenty-four carat English gold leaf. There is a refurbishment and reinforcement of the stage roof trusses which were installed in 1821. Art restoration to Joseph Harker’s ceiling and meticulous cleaning of two thousand lead crystals in a central chandelier. New carpet, upholstery, hand blocked wallpapers, marble polishing and air conditioning.
Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband as well as A Woman Of No Importance both premiered here. The theatre has a reputation for presenting high quality plays – and the actors and actresses who have appeared over the years reads like a who’s who of British theatre.
When you visit the theatre look out for Buckstone, a friend of Charles Dickens and manager of the Haymarket from 1853-1879, whose ghost is allegedly still seen in the auditorium and dressing rooms, watching over his beloved Haymarket.
Venue and Travel Information
Theatre Royal Haymarket
8 Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4HT
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Tube Lines: Bakerloo, Piccadilly
Directions from nearest tube: Go along Coventry Street and then take Haymarket on the right where the theatre will be approx. 200 metres along.
Railway Station: Charing Cross
Car Park: Leicester Square, Whitcomb Street
Within Congestion Zone: Yes
Venue Facilities: Air conditioned, Bar, Disabled toilets, Infrared hearing loop, Toilets, Wheelchair accessible