Duke of York's Theatre


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4BG


Ordnance survey map of Duke of York's Theatre
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Statutory Address:
St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4BG

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
City of Westminster (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 30061 80694


This list entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 01/06/2018

TQ 3080 NW 72/101



GV II Theatre, 1891-92, by Walter Emden and built as the Trafalgar Theatre. Of painted brick with stucco dressings and a slate roof, in the Late Classical style. Five windows wide with slightly advanced three window centrepiece and plain returns to side passages. The arcaded ground floor has fanlighted, glazed and panelled doors beneath a probably later iron and glass canopy. The centrepiece has a first floor Ionic columned loggia and the second floor has semi-circular arched windows and attic windows above. These are framed by Doric pilasters. The flanking bays have tripartite, architraved and corniced windows on the upper floors, those on first floor dressed with the same Ionic order as the centre, and the whole front is framed by advanced quoin piers with entablatures over ground and first floors and a crowning cornice. The auditorium has a Louis XV-Louis XVI inspired elegant decorative scheme with three balconies, domed ceiling and three tiers of boxes. The boxes and proscenium arch are framed by neo-classical stucco reliefs, which are also used on the flank walls. There are arabesques of similar stylistic derivation to balcony fronts and the dome is ribbed and coffered. The design is ingenious and elegantly executed. 1980 structural alterations have removed the original composite columns carrying the balconies, substituting plain columns to the first balcony and cantilevering the upper two whilst respecting the decoration.

Historical note: the theatre was a site for protests by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the militant suffrage organisation founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903. Suffragettes (as its members were known) used direct action to campaign for the vote. This escalated to include arson and bombing after 1912 but other forms of direct action remained important. The WSPU used theatres and restaurants to stage protests as they provided an audience for the suffragette message. Theatre protests became popular after 1913 when the owners of many public halls were refusing to hire them out for suffragette meetings. In the West End, suffragettes would target a number of theatres simultaneously to ensure that the protests received press coverage.

The theatre witnessed a number of these protests in 1913 and 1914. Women took seats in the front of the gallery and stood up to give speeches during the performance. The audience in the stalls were showered with suffragette handbills thrown over the balcony, and at one protest in January 1914 a banner in the WSPU colours of purple, white and green, drawing attention to forcible feeding of suffragette prisoners, was hung over the rails. The final protest at the Duke of York's Theatre on 27 July 1914 was one of the last militant protests before the WSPU suspended campaigning on the outbreak of the First World War.

This list entry was amended in 2018 as part of the centenary commemorations of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.

Listing NGR: TQ3006180694


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Mander, , Mitchenson, , The Theatres of London, (1975)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 29 Jun 2001
Reference: IOE01/04260/01
Rights: Copyright IoE M. Louise Taylor. Source Historic England Archive
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