Victorian London - Theatre and Shows - Theatres and Venues- Queen's Theatre

REGENCY THEATRE, TOTTENHAM STREET, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD. Now "The Queen's," and little frequented and often closed. Here in 1802 Colonel Greville instituted his Pic-Nic Society.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

One night, while the old Queen's was still in existence, Mr. and Mrs. Byron and myself occupied a private box, and saw the performance. It was a well-conducted, clean little house, but oh, the audience! My heart sank! Some of the occupants of the stalls (the price of admission was, I think, a shilling) were engaged between the acts in devouring oranges (their faces being buried in them), and drinking ginger-beer. Babies were being rocked to sleep, or smacked to be quiet, which proceeding, in many cases, had an opposite effect! A woman looked up to our box, and seeing us staring aghast, with, I suppose, an expression of horror upon my face, first of all took a sight' at us, and then shouted, 'Now, then, you three stuck-up ones, come out o' that, or I'll send this ere orange at your eds'. Mr. Byron went to the back of the box and laughed until we thought he would be ill. He said my face was a study. 'Oh, Byron!' I exclaimed, 'do you think that people from the West End will ever come into those seats?' No,' he replied, not those seats.' Of course he made jokes the whole evening. One woman in the stalls called out to another, 'I say, Mrs. Grove, ere s one for you,' at the same moment throwing a big orange, upon which Mr. Byron remarked, 'Nice woman, Mrs. Grove. Orange Grove!' I think, if I could, I would have at that moment retired from my bargain, but the deed was done, and there was no going back from it.
   
We had possession of the theatre for a month, during which brief time it had to be taken very much to pieces, cleaned, painted, reseated, redecorated, furnished, and it was not pleasant to see the money gradually getting less and less, for the bills were paid every week. Mr. James was very kind, and helped me to go about everything as cheaply as possible; and when he came every Saturday with bills to be paid, or sums advanced to the builder and decorator, the upholsterer, or the gas-fitter, he would say, in his peculiar falsetto voice, 'The poor thousand pounds is becoming smaller by degrees, and beautifully less'. By the time the theatre opened I had about 150 left... 

Marie Wilton (writing about 1864) in Mr. and Mrs Bancroft on and off the Stage

EDITOR'S NOTES:

Opened as the New Rooms in Tottenham Street for concerts in 1772. Converted into the New Theatre and opened in 1810. Later names included The Regency (1815), The West London (1821), The Queen's (1831), The Fitzroy (1833) and The Prince of Wales's (1865). Closed in 1884. The Scala Theatre opened on the same site in 1905. [see Lost Theatres of London by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson for more information]