The Theatres Trust

Theatre Royal (ii) (Bath)

  • Theatre ID
  • Built / Converted
  • Dates of use
    • 1805: continuing
  • Current state
  • Current use
  • Address
    Sawclose, Bath, Avon, BA1 1ET, England


The principal façe of Dance’s theatre is to Beauford Square, on the long axis of the auditorium/stage. Fine restrained Neo-Classical design in ashlar with three storeyed, five-bay centrepiece. Panelled pilasters above ground floor, with masks carved in relief in the frieze over the tops of each pilaster, and linked by swags. Large Royal Arms with two lyres each side, set on parapet above cornice. One of the most important surviving examples of Georgian theatre architecture. Entrance moved to Sawclose when theatre reconstructed in 1863. Phipps added an Italianate three-bay arcaded entrance in front of the ground floor of a fine early 18th century house. The auditorium was Phipps’s first theatre commission, and survives largely intact, with two lyre-shaped balconies carried along front edge by iron columns. Delicate plasterwork. Superimposed stage boxes framed between slender colonettes with foliated capitals supporting a flared elliptical arch, repeated on either side above what were formerly the gallery slips (since removed). Saucer-domed ceiling, now lacking its original painted decorations (these were paintings by Casali, removed from Fonthill). The Theatre was taken over in 1981 by a trust and a second non-profit trust was formed to run the administrative side. The theatre was restored, and reopened in late summer 1982. The stage was flattened and actually lowered slightly on the front edge which impaired sightlines from the upper levels. Unfortunately much historic stage machinery and equipment was also lost in the rebuild of the stage. The Ustinov Studio was added at the rear in 1997. There are plans for further improvements, including the reseating of the auditorium. The Robins cinema (a 1976 conversion of St Paul’s Church Hall) was acquired in 2003 and converted to a childrens’ theatre - the egg - which opened in 2005.

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Stage at the Theatre Royal, Bath, 2001
© Ian Grundy

Auditorium of the Theatre Royal, Bath, 2001
© Ian Grundy

Auditorium of the Theatre Royal, Bath, 2001
© Ian Grundy

Ceiling of the Theatre Royal, Bath, 2001
© Ian Grundy

Exterior of Robins Cinema, Bath, 2001
© Ian Grundy

Streetscape showing the Theatre Royal, Bath, 1990
© The Theatres Trust

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  • Events
    • Owner/Management: Bath Theatre Royal Co, owners
    • Owner/Management: Frank Maddox, son, also, later
    • Owner/Management: Various followed until 1885 William Lewis, succeeded by son Egbert Lewis 1900-14
    • Design/Construction: Andrea Casali, ceiling paintings - installed from Fonthill, Wilts (now elsewhere)
    • 1805 - 1812 Owner/Management: William Wyatt Dimond, lessee
    • 1805 Use: continuing
    • 1805 Design/Construction: with John Palmer
      • George Dance the Younger - Architect
    • 1812 - 1843 Owner/Management: many (most enterprising Benjamin Bellamy; most famous 1835 Macready, joint manager)
    • 1843 Owner/Management: Mr Davidge (of Surrey Theatre)
    • 1844 Owner/Management: Mr Hay (of Exeter & Portsmouth Theatres), lessees
    • 1845 Owner/Management: Mr Hooper
    • 1845 - 1853 Owner/Management: Mrs Macready, lessees
    • 1853 - 1858 Owner/Management: James Henry Chute, lessee
    • 1863 Alteration: rebuilt after fire on old foundations, retaining Dance façade
      • C J Phipps - Architect
    • 1864 Alteration: box office enlarged; interior redecorated
      • Unknown - Architect
    • 1902 Alteration: additional staircase to upper circle; new entrances/exits; fire-proof curtain installed
      • Unknown (? Verity) - Architect
    • 1914 - 1931 Owner/Management: Arthur Carlton
    • 1916 Owner/Management: Mrs Munro, manager
    • 1919 Owner/Management: Shelford Walsh, manager
    • 1931 Owner/Management: Lady Carlton
    • 1938 Owner/Management: Reg Maddox, lessee
    • 1973 Owner/Management: Charles Ware
    • 1979 Owner/Management: Louis I Michaels (Triumph Productions)
    • 1981 Design/Construction:
      • Carl Toms - Consultant: Redecoration Of Auditorium
    • 1981 Alteration: stage rebuilt; steel grid and counterweights installed; auditorium restored
      • Dowton & Hurst - Architect
    • 1981 Owner/Management: Theatre Trust, headed by Jeremy Fry, with second Trust administering
    • 1997 Alteration: improved further; Ustinov Studio Theatre added
      • Tektus - Architect
  • Capacities
    • Later: 1946: 211 stalls, 54 boxes, 100 amphitheatre, 145
    • Current: 850
  • Listings
    • Grade II*
  • Dimensions
    • Stage dimensions: 1946 Depth: 30ft 1994 Depth: 13m
    • Proscenium width: 1946: 28ft x 20ft 1994: 8.35m x 7.7m
    • Height to grid: 1946: 40ft 1994: 18.3m
    • Orchestra pit: Flexible. On rows A & B, on lift with under-stage
  • Unreliable anecdotes
    Someone has written a whole book about all the ghosts!

Of the period

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