Her Majesty's Theatre
Heritage Category: Listed Building
List Entry Number: 1357090
Date first listed: 14-Jan-1970
Statutory Address: Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4QL
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Statutory Address: Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4QL
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Greater London Authority
District: City of Westminster (London Borough)
National Grid Reference: TQ 29731 80451
This list entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 01/06/2018
TQ 2980 SE 82/17
CITY OF WESTMINSTER HAYMARKET, SW1 Her Majesty's Theatre
14.1.70 GV II* Theatre, built 1896-97 by C.J. Phipps for the actor Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, with interior decoration by consulting architect Romaine Walker. Stone faced with leaded and slate roofs. The remaining pavilion portion is of a large symmetrical design (incorporating the now demolished Carlton Hotel) in a French Renaissance inspired style with a large pavilion roof and dome combined with more Italianate detailing at attic level.
The building has four storeys, with an attic storey and half dormers. The main elevation is nine windows wide with a three window return to Charles II Street, continued in a long recessed five storey side elevation. Ground floor range consists of the foyer and saloon, with balcony doorways to the five bay centrepiece situated between piers. The outer doorways are architraved with framed bay lights over, all under an elegant glass and iron canopy. The first and second floors have giant pilaster order, and the five bay centrepiece is advanced with a giant Corinthian colonnade, forming a loggia in front of the architraved and corniced windows. On the fourth floor the five central bays are flanked by pairs of elaborately pedimented half dormers below the French mansard roof, whilst over the centrepiece rises a square attic carrying a massive square French dome astride the roof, surmounted by a slender octagonal lantern with a spreading gallery.
The interior has a wainscotted foyer with Ionic pilaster order and beamed ceiling with deeply recessed coffers above a rich frieze. The auditorium with fanned stalls, cantilevered balconies and gallery has an opulent but refined French neoclassical theme inspired by Gabriel and DeWailly's Opera at Versailles. There is a scagliola proscenium flanked by three tier boxes set between scagliola Corinthian columns. The curving side walls of the auditorium are modelled as blind arcading with paired Corinthian pilasters, with enriched cornice to the main ceiling, with its large saucer dome. This extremely well planned theatre was Phipps's last work. Beerbohm Tree had the dome fitted with a banqueting hall and living room, using the space as his home during his management of the theatre from 1897 till his death in 1917. Her Majesty's is the fourth royal patent theatre located on this site since Vanburgh's building of 1704-5. The adjoining Royal Opera Arcade, which once had an entrance to the theatre, is separately listed at Grade I (National Heritage List for England reference 1235289)
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 some of the most widely-reported protests between 1913 and 1914. In May 1914, a number of protesters targeted a performance attended by the King and Queen with Princess Mary, and one woman attempted to hand a petition to the King when the royal party arrived. Inside the theatre the play was interrupted by protestors in the stalls, the stage and the orchestra pit, and the audience was showered with suffragette leaflets thrown from the gallery. Two women, who refused to reveal their identities, were arrested and gaoled for this protest. In June, a suffragette in the upper circle interrupted a monologue by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree to protest against the treatment of suffragette prisoners. When she was ejected another woman, who had chained herself to her seat, continued. The protesters were treated very violently outside the theatre.
This list entry was amended in 2018 as part of the centenary commemorations of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.
Listing NGR: TQ2973180451
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 210129
Legacy System: LBS
Books and journals
Mander, , Mitchenson, , The Theatres of London, (1975)
'Survey of London' in The Parish of St James Westminster Part 1 South of Piccadilly: Volumes 29 and 30, , Vol. 29, (1960)
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