18 Suffolk Street
London SW1Y 4HT
TfL Fare Zone 1
The elegant columned portico of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in London’s West End makes this lovely old theatre instantly recognisable.
‘Theatre Royal’ is the name of many theatres, especially in the UK. The name was once an indication that the theatre was a patent theatre, with a Royal Patent without which performances of serious drama were illegal. The other ‘Theatre Royal” in London is at Drury Lane. To make things even more confusing, the Theatre Royal, Haymarket is also known as ‘Haymarket Theatre’ or the ‘Little Theatre’.
The present theatre was re-designed by John Nash in 1821 to replace an earlier one built in the 1720s, and is the third oldest London playhouse still in use. It is a Grade I listed building, with a seating capacity of 888. The freehold of the theatre is owned by the Crown Estate.
All the buildings on the east of the Haymarket from the theatre southward were rebuilt circa 1820 in connection with John Nash's schemes for the improvement of the neighbourhood. Nash persuaded the proprietors of the theatre to rebuild on a site a little south of the old one so that the portico should close the vista from Charles Street.
The main front feature of Nash's elevation in the Haymarket is a pedimented portico of six Corinthian columns which extends in depth to the edge of the pavement and includes the whole frontage. It is sometimes stated that Nash rebuilt the theatre entirely, but there is evidence that he incorporated a house in Little Suffolk Street with the theatre, removed two shops which were in front, in the Haymarket, built a portico, increased the number of avenues and added a second gallery to the existing auditorium.
The Theatre Royal, Haymarket was the site of a significant innovation in theatre. In 1873, it was the venue for the first scheduled matinee performance, establishing a custom soon followed in theatres everywhere.
In its early days the theatre was well known for staging politically satirical comedies. In the 19th century John Baldwin Buckstone, established the theatre as a great comedy house, and the theatre hosted most of the great actors of the period. Buckstone's ghost has reportedly often been seen at the theatre, particularly during comedies and "when he appreciates things" playing there. In 2009, while performing in Waiting for Godot, actor Sir Patrick Stewart saw the ghost standing in the wings.
Plan Your Visit
Box Office Telephone Bookings Tel: +44 (0)2079 308 800
Dates and times by prior arrangement with the Tour Guide.
Tel: 02076273638 / 07815824797
A tour explores the Theatre, visits backstage briefly, and the famous No.1 Dressing Room, where possible.
Contact & Further Information
To find the best way for getting to the Theatre Royal, visit TfL Journey Planner, link above.
- By Underground
Piccadilly Circus Station Piccadilly & Bakerloo Lines
- By Bus
Route Nos. 6, 13, 15, 23, 139, 159, 453
Google Maps - Theatre Royal Haymarket