DRURY LANE THEATRECategory: Theatre
This is London’s most famous theatre, and the oldest still in use. The first theatre on this site was built in 1662. Known as “the Theatre Royal in Bridges Sreet”, it opened on 7 May 16’63. The whole theatre was about the same size as the stage of the present Drury Lane; the pit benches were covered in green cloth, and the floor was steeply raked so that people at the back could converse with the occupants of the boxes behind. For ten years the theatre prospered, in spite of having to be closed on account of plague from June 1665 to Nov. 1666.
On the night of 25 June 1672 the theatre was partly destroyed by fire, with the loss of the entire wardrobe and stock of scenery.
The new theatre, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was larger than the first theatre. It opened (as the theatre Royal in Drury Lane) on 26 March 1674. On 5 May 1733 a riot took place. It wTas caused by the abolition of the custom of allowing free admission to the gallery for footmen attending their masters.
In 1742 Garrick made his first appearance at Drury Lane Theatre.
Drury Lane has its ghost, an eightenth-century gentleman in a long grey riding cloak, riding boots, sword, three cornered hat, and powdered hair, who walks in at one wall of the upper circle and out at the other, but only at a matinee, and when the house is full. He may have some connection with the skeleton found bricked up in one of the walls, with a dagger in its ribs the murderer or the murdered?