Theatre Royal


    The Quadrant, Regent's Street | Fire in London
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    Fires were a common problem with theatres - the lighting in side both on stage and for the audience combined with the draperies, was hazardous. Fires usually started by accident.

    Covent Garden Theatre burnt down on 20 September, 1808 and was redesigned by Robert Smirke opening less than a year later on 18 September, 1809. The picture above is of Smirke's redesign and is from Ackermann's 'Repsitory'

    The term "wet blanket" originates from here. The London Fire Code of the 19thC required that eight blankets, soaked with water, be kept on each side of the stage, just off-stage. When the open flames caught the costumes, etc., the blankets could be used to smother the fire and dampen the spirits as well. Although I am not sure of the date of this fire code it may well have been after the Regency/Georgian period.

    It isn't so much a quote as just a general comment on some places of entertainment for the 'The Quality' a the turn of the century (that is the turn of the 1800).

    Raneleagh and Vauxhall gardens were popular - but Vauxhall Gardens needed a thousand guests a night at 2 shillings a piece in 3 1/2 month season to make a profit.

    Opera, Haymarket theatre which eventurally acheived supremacy over its arch rival the Pantheon in Oxford Street. The Haymarket was claimed to be one of the most superb in Europe and boasted a circular vestibule almost lined wtih looking galss, and furnished with sophas in which female loveliness is "not only seen but reflected."

    Other places included the large theatres of Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Sadlers Wells which specialised in pantomines. At the Sans Souci there was a one-man show of music, comedy and melodrama. Then there was always Astleys Equestrian Exhibition and Amphitheatre of Arts. Return to Regency Collection