The Theatres Trust

Theatre Royal (Orchard Street)

  • Theatre ID
  • Built / Converted
  • Dates of use
    • 1750 - 1805
  • Current state
  • Current use
    Converted to other use (Freemasons Hall and Masonic Museum)
  • Address
    12 Old Orchard Street, Bath, Avon, BA1 1JU, England
  • Website


The interior has been substantially rebuilt for its present purpose, but the shell and front to Orchard Street are basically intact. The axis of the auditorium and stage lay parallel to the street and were contained within a coursed rubble, pitched-roofed structure which still exists. Between this and the street is a shallow range, formerly containing lobbies, staircases etc. The ashlar facade has three storeys and seven bays of plain sash windows - hardly distinguishable from adjacent houses. Former doorways to pit, boxes and galleries now removed and replaced by windows. Present pedimented entrance dates from conversion to Freemason’s Hall. It was called Theatre Royal from 1767 - the first provincial theatre to be given a patent. It closed in 1805 after the owners had built the present Theatre Royal in Beauford Square. It became a Catholic Church in 1809 and a masonic lodge in 1866.

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  • Other names
    Bath's Old Orchard Street Theatre
  • Events
    • 1748 Owner/Management: pre Hippisley, proprietor (died whilst building in planning stage)
    • 1749 Owner/Management: John Palmer, proprietor, plus consortium
    • 1750 - 1805 Use:
    • 1750 - 1757 Owner/Management: Brown
    • 1750 Design/Construction: (after a design attributed to Thomas Jelly)
      • John Hippisley/John Palmer - Architect
    • 1758 Owner/Management: 3 actors, of which one was Hull
    • 1759 - 1761 Owner/Management: Henry Lee
    • 1761 - 1769 Owner/Management: John Arthur ('a low comedian and pantomime clown')
    • 1767 Alteration: auditorium remodelled
      • John Palmer - Architect
    • 1768 Owner/Management: John Palmer the Younger (son)
    • 1769 - 1805 Owner/Management: Lee (again)
    • 1771 - 1795 Owner/Management: Keasberry, ‘acting manager’
    • 1775 Alteration: altered (architect unknown).
    • 1809 Alteration: converted to church (architect unknown).
    • 1809 Owner/Management: Roman Catholic Church
    • 1866 Alteration: converted to masonic lodge (architect unknown).
  • Listings
    • Grade II
  • Dimensions
    • Building dimensions: ‘sixty feet long and forty feet broad’

Of the period

Facade of York Theatre Royal
Theatre Royal (York)

Have you seen?

Auditorium stage left, box, stalls and balcony, Nelson Palace Theatre, August 2009
Nelson Palace Theatre

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