Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Theatre and Shows - Theatre and Venues - Sadler's Wells Theatre

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Sadler's Wells Theatre ... is now open all the year round. Admission, to the boxes, 2s.; pit, 1s.; gallery, 6d.

Sadler's Wells Theatre, near the New River Head, was so called from a person named Sadler, who had a music-house on or near this spot in the time of Charles II. The present house was built in 1765, but has been much altered interiorly, and is now a comfortable and pleasant theatre. The performances here chiefly consist of operatic and melodramatic representations; and the season, which formerly continued from Easter to October, is now irregular, and of uncertain duration. Performences at half-past six.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

SADLER'S WELLS. A well-known place of public amusement: first a music house, and now a theatre, and so called from a spring of mineral water, discovered by one Sadler, in 1683, in the garden of a house which he had newly opened as a public music-room, and called by his own name as "Sadler's Music House." A pamphlet was published in 1684, giving an account of the discovery, with the virtues of the water, which is there said to be of a ferrugineous nature, and much resembling in quality and effects the water of Tunbridge Wells. it was long an outlying neighbourhood, and the old playbills of the middle of the last century commonly announce, whenever a great performance took place, that "a horse patrol will be sent in the New Road that night for the protection of the nobility and gentry who go from the squares and that end of the town," and "that the road also towards the city will be properly guarded." The New River flows past the theatre, and on great occasions has been carried under the stage, and the flooring removed, for the exhibition of aquatic performances. Here Grimaldi, the famous clown, achieved his greatest triumphs. This admirable little theatre (for such it now is, under the able management of Mr. Phelps, the actor) has for some years maintained a well-deserved celebrity for the performance of the plays of Shakspeare, Beaumont and Fletcher Massinger, &c., in a way worthy of a larger theatre, and a richer, but not a more crowded or enthusiastic, audience. Of the earlier houses there are views in Wilkinson's Londina lllustrata. The scene of Hogarth's Evening is laid at Sadler's Wells, in front of the Sir Hugh Myddelton public-house.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

SADLER'S WELLS, St. John Street Road, the most reputable of the suburban theatres, was named from a Mr. Sadler, who, in 1683, discovered here a spring of water with medicinal properties, and opened a music-room to attract visitors and patients. The room gradually developed into a theatre, which became widely famous for spectacular attractions, with "real water," for farce and tragic melodrama of peculiar intensity. For several years it was acknowledged as the regular Shakspearean theatre, where the old playgoer might depend upon seeing his favourite five-act dramas represented  with painstaking accuracy and conspicuous ability.
    Class of Performance: Tragedy, comedy, farce, and pantomime.
Admission: Boxes. 3s. ; upper boxes, 2s. ; pit, 1s. gallery, 6d. Doors open at half-past six ; curtain rises at seven.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

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Sadlerís Wells Theatre, St. Johnís-street, Clerkenwell.ó In the recesses of Clerkenwell, once famous for the performances of Grimaldi, and later for its Shaksperean revivals under the management of the late Mr. Phelps. NEAREST Railway Stations, Kingís- cross and Farringdonstreet; Omnibus Route, John-street, Pentonville-road, City-road.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879