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Theatre Royal
Sawclose, Bath, BA1 1ET
Country England
Designation Listed Building Grade II*
Architect Thomas Greenway
Capacity 900
Type Provincial
Opened 1805
Rebuilt 1863

The Theatre Royal in Bath, England, is over 200 years old. It is one of the more important theatres in the United Kingdom outside London, with capacity for an audience of around 900.

Alongside the weekly touring productions which make up the majority of the Theatre Royal's programme, the Theatre Royal is host to several festivals each year, including the Bath Shakespeare Festival, the Bath International Puppet Festival and the Peter Hall Company Season. Many plays start at the Theatre Royal before their official opening in London.

The present main entrance to the Theatre Royal, in Sawclose, was built in 1720 by Thomas Greenway, and was Beau Nash's first house:[1] Pevsner criticizes the mouldings of window-frames and of frieze and the volutes of the brackets of the door-hood as "characteristically overdone", and mentions Wood remarking on its "profuse ornament" and on how it was typical of a mason rather than an architect. The exterior of the building, with arches, pilasters, garlands and ornaments, is visible from Beauford Square, designed by George Dance the Younger and erected by John Palmer.[2] The theatre itself was erected in 1805, replacing a former theatre of the same name, which is now a Freemason's Hall. After a fire in 1863[3] the interior was redone by C J Phipps.

The theatre, along with the neighbouring Garrick's Head public house, is a Grade II* listed building[4] and is considered a prime example of Georgian architecture. The auditorium has tiers of ornate plasterwork, with sumptuous red and gilt decoration, and a majestic trompe l'oeil ceiling and glittering chandelier. It was extensively renovated in 1982, and refurbished in 1999.

In 1997 a studio theatre was built at the rear of the building on Monmouth Street, called The Ustinov Studio, named after the actor Peter Ustinov.[5] It is the home of Britain's largest annual international festival of adult puppetry, and a venue for an eclectic range of drama, dance and classical music. The Ustinov Studio re-opened in February 2008, following a period of closure for refurbishment, with their own production of Breakfast With Mugabe starring Joseph Marcell, Miles Anderson and Nicholas Bailey.

In 2005 another new theatre was opened behind the Theatre Royal, the egg, which is a children's theatre, providing professional theatre productions for children and their families, alongside workshops and youth theatre productions.[6] It also has the egg Cafe, a family friendly cafe, run by Chandos Deli.

The Theatre's Vaults Restaurant provides pre-show dinners and matinée lunches, and a suite of rooms (The 1805 Rooms) are available for functions.

The theatre itself is said to be haunted by The Grey Lady, who was an actress centuries ago. She has been seen watching productions in the popularly-named Grey Lady Box, and she leaves the distinctive scent of Jasmine. She has been seen and scented in recent years.


  1. ^ Haddon, John (1982). Portrait of Bath. London: Robert Hale. pp. 62. ISBN 0709198833. 
  2. ^ Gadd, David (1971). Georgian Summer. Bath: Adams & Dart Ltd. pp. 144. ISBN 0239000838. 
  3. ^ "A Brief History of The Theatre Royal Bath". Theatre Royal. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  4. ^ "Garrick's Head Public House & Theatre Royal". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  5. ^ "Theatre Royal (ii) (Bath)". The Theatres Trust. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  6. ^ "Theatre Royal Bath". Bath Festival. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 

External links

Coordinates: 51°22′56″N 2°21′46″W / 51.3821°N 2.3629°W / 51.3821; -2.3629



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