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Page from The Nic-Nac, Vol II  No.95. 25 September 1824.  A transcription of the text is shown to the right.

Page from The Nic-Nac, Vol II No.95. 25 September 1824. A transcription of the text is shown to the right.

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THE BI-CENTENARY OF THE OLD VIC
 

This historic theatre opened on 11 May 1818.  Our anniversary display will be followed up next month with a selection of programmes illustrating the building's musical history.
 

This house, which has but recently been added to the list of Minor Theatres, stands about half a mile southward of Waterloo Bridge, and owed its origin to the following circumstances : Mr. Jones who formerly rented the Surrey Theatre, becoming insolvent, his assignees let that house to Mr Elliston, for a term of years for 2200 guineas (VIDE SEC. 24).  Elliston’s management terminated in 1814, and Jones’s lease of the premises expiring soon after, the ground-landlord (Temple West Esq.) demanded a great increase upon the old rent, viz. 4200 guineas.  Jones’s assignees offered him 600l. which was refused ; but as they still held the lease under which performances had been carried on at the Surrey Theatre, and which had been granted to Jones, they imagined they should be able to bring West to their own terms.  He, however, obtained another Licence for performances at the Surrey Theatre ; and Jones’s assignees, thus disappointed, issued proposals for building a new house.
. . . .
Few subscribers came forward to back this scheme, which originated with Jones, Dunn, the last tenant of the Circus, and one Serres, a Marine Painter.  The first, on the strength of his former connexion with the Circus, and procuration of the ground ; the second having a stock of scenery, dresses, &c, ; and the third having made interest with the Prince and Princess Coburg to procure a Licence, which was issued at the Surrey Quarter Sessions, Oct. 16, 1816.  The building, however, from want of money, proceeded but slowly, till the spring of 1817, when Mr. Glossop, Senr., a tallow-chandler, advanced a few hundred pounds, on account of his son.  The workmen then proceeded, till the day before Good Friday, 1817, when they struck, and carried off the scaffolding.  In this state the shell continued till the autumn, and it was expected ever to remain so, when Mr. Glossop made arrangements with the before-mentioned persons for taking the management of it into his hands, proceeded speedily with the building, and opened it, May 11th, 1818, but in an unfinished state.
The neighbourhood of this theatre had a very old-fashioned appearance previous to the completion of Waterloo Bridge in 1817 ; but, since that period, most of the old buildings have been pulled down or modernized, and many new ones erected.  The site was formerly known by the name of Lambeth Marsh, and the ground being extremely swampy, the projectors of the Theatre purchased the materials of the Old Savoy Palace in the Strand (pulled down in 1817, to form an opening to Waterloo Bridge), with which they constructed the foundation of their building.
 The first stone of their edifice was laid by Alderman Goodbehere, and may be seen, even with the ground, at the north-west angle, bearing the following inscription:

  1. This first stone of the ROYAL COBURG THEATRE was laid on the 14th day of September in the year 1816 by his Serene Highness the PRINCE OF SAXE COBURG and her Royal Highness the PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES by their Serene and Royal Highness’s Proxy ALDERMAN GOODBEHERE

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

The stone in April 2018.