The original Drury Lane Theatre was built in 1662-63 for Thomas Killgrew and the King’s Company, as one of only two patent theatres, to designs by an unknown architect. This was destroyed by fire in 1672, and rebuilt in 1672-74 to designs by Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). In 1775 – just a year before his retirement – Garrick commissioned Robert Adam to reface and redecorate Wren’s theatre. His designs for the proscenium and ceiling survive at Sir John Soane’s Museum, but there are no known drawings for his overall scheme, or the refacing work. These are illustrated in the second volume of the Works in architecture of Robert and James Adam. Part five, plate six shows a view of Adam’s new front facing Bridge (later Catherine) Street, and plate seven shows an interior view from the stage.
Adam’s interior was largely masked in 1783 when the auditorium was redecorated by Thomas Greenwood (ND) and William Capon (1757-1827). In 1791 the fabric was declared unsafe, and over the next four years it was entirely rebuilt for Sheridan to designs by Henry Holland (1745-1806), but this as destroyed by fire in 1809, and rebuilt in 1811-12 to designs by Benjamin Dean Wyatt (1775-1855). The interior was remodelled in 1822 to designs by Samuel Beazley (1786-1851), and again in 1921-22 to designs by J. Emblin Walker, F. Edward Jones and Robert Cromie (ND). The building is Grade I listed and remains a theatre.
See also: Hampton House; The Adelphi; Hendon Hall
R. and J. Adam, The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam, Volume II, 1779, part V, plates vi-vii; A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume I, pp. 29-30, and Volume II, Index pp. 37, 72; D. Stillman, The decorative work of Robert Adam, 1966, p. 105; R. Carter, ‘The Drury Lane Theatre of Henry Holland and Benjamin Dean Wyatt’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Volume 25, October 1967, pp. 200-216; Survey of London, Volume XXXV, 1970, pp. 9-70; B. Weinreb and C. Hibbert, The London encyclopaedia, 1983, pp. 885-886; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy: 1701-1800, 1997, p. 391; H.R. Smith, The story of Garrick and his life at Hampton, 1998, pp. 1-13; D, King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, p. 32; ‘Garrick, David (1717-1779)’, Oxford dictionary of national biography online
Frances Sands, 2014
Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of Drury Lane Theatre, Bridges (later Catherine) Street, London: designs for interior decoration for David Garrick, 1775 (3)
- Design for the proscenium, 1775; it is not known if this design was executed
- Design and finished drawing for the ceiling of the auditorium, 1775-76, Adam volume 14/17 as executed (2)