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Historic England Research Records

Theatre Royal

Hob Uid: 1008195
Location :
City of Bristol
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : ST5880572751
Summary : The Theatre Royal, now known as the Bristol Old Vic, was designed by James Paty and built between 1764 and 1766 and houses Britain's oldest surviving and continuously used theatre auditorium. The building was constructed using brick, pantile, and rubble with a largely timber interior. Due to its location behind King Street it originally had no great façade to speak of until later alterations.Its basic layout follows the same as Drury Lane Theatre, London, although Paty installing a semicircular rather than elliptical auditorium and the dress circle and upper circle were designed solely as boxes. In c1800 the theatre was redecorated and the ceiling heightened for the addition of an extra tier. A small entrance was added to King Street in 1903, and in 1942 the theatre was saevd from closure. By 1946 the Bristol Old Vic Company was established in the building and remains so to this day. In the late 20th century there was an extension to the west, which saw the inclusion of a new studio theatre and workshops built over the 1903 entrance. It was also that this time that the theatre took over, and expanded into, Coopers House, a guild hall of 1743 with a grand frontage on King Street. The theatre closed in August 2007 to undergo a £9 million refurbishment plan and aims to reopen properly in 2009, with new seating and disabled facilities.
More information : ST 58807277. Theatre Royal built 1764-6 "a most valuable document of English theatrical history". Grade 1. Scheduled 140. (1-5)

Building still listed, but descheduled (6)

Further sources on the Theatre Royal. (7-9)

The Theatre Royal, now known as the Bristol Old Vic, was designed by James Paty and built between 1764 and 1766 and houses Britain's oldest surviving theatre auditorium. The building was constructed using brick, pantile, and rubble with a largely timber interior. Due to its location behind King Street it originally had no great façade to speak of until later alterations.

The building was served its royal patent and name in 1778. Paty had been commissioned specifically to oversee that the building conformed to the plan of Drury Lane Theatre, London, as closely as possible. He only seems to have followed this plan in the most basic of senses, with Paty installing a semicircular rather than elliptical auditorium and the dress circle and upper circle designed solely as boxes. In c1800 the theatre was redecorated by James Saunders and the ceiling heightened for the addition of an extra tier. Plasterwork survives from these alterations over the proscenium arch.

In 1942 the theatre was closed, but a public appeal saw it reopen and by 1946 the Bristol Old Vic Company was established in the building and remains to this day. In 1972 Peter Moro oversaw an extension to the west, which saw the inclusion of a new studio theatre and workshops built over the 1903 entrance. It was also that this time that the theatre took over, and expanded into, Coopers House, a guild hall of 1743 with a grand frontage on King Street. Coopers House was largely redundant at the time, and it gave the theatre a new befitting its status.

The theatre closed in August 2007 to undergo a £9 million refurbishment plan and aims to reopen properly in 2009, with new seating and disabled facilities. (10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : North Somerset and Bristol
Source details :
Page(s) : 413
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Source Number : 2
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Bristol, NOV-1949
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Source Number : 3
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Bristol, 04-MAR-1977
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Vol(s) : 901
Source Number : 4
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
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Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 5
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) : 134, 1977
Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage Record Form 22-MAR-1996
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Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Bristol, 30-DEC-1994
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Vol(s) : 901-1
Source Number : 8
Source : Bristol : an architectural history
Source details :
Page(s) : 183
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Source Number : 9
Source : Architectural review
Source details : Nov-43
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Source Number : 10
Source : Bristol
Source details :
Page(s) : 157-159
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built 1764-66
Monument End Date : 1766
Monument Start Date : 1764
Monument Type : Theatre
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Altered circa 1800
Monument End Date : 1810
Monument Start Date : 1790
Monument Type : Theatre
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : New entrance built 1903
Monument End Date : 1903
Monument Start Date : 1903
Monument Type : Theatre
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : 1973
Monument End Date : 1973
Monument Start Date : 1973
Monument Type : Theatre, Workshop
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : AV 140
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DESCHEDULED
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 379885
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 90814
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 57 SE 257
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1008216
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, THEATRE ROYAL, KING STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1971-01-01
End Date : 1971-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : Primary, THEATRE ROYAL, KING STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE OLD VIC, KING STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2016-01-01
End Date : 2018-12-31