Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Theatre and Shows - Theatres and Venues - Strand Theatre

Strand Theatre, The ... is generally open in the summer. Performance commences at 7. Admission to the boxes, 4s.; pit, 2s.; gallery, 1s.

The Strand Theatre, a minor establishment, upon a very small scale, consists of one tier of boxes, a pit and gallery. The performances, which commence at 7, chiefly consist of operas, farces, melodramas, burlettas and ballets. The season is of uncertain length. Admission to the boxes, 4s.; pit, 2s.; gallery 1s.

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

The STRAND THEATRE, near St. Clement's Church, Strand, originally called "Punch's Theatre", has attained an enduring popularity under the management of the Swanborough family. Its company is particularly adapted to the representation of burlesques, extravaganzas, farces, and light interludes.
Admission: Private boxes, 11. 1s. to 2l. 2s. ; stalls, 5s. dress circle, 3s.; pit, 1s. 6d. ; gallery, 6d. Doors open at half-past six ; curtain rises at seven p.m.

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

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Strand Theatre, on the south side of the Strand just east of Somerset House. Specialty, comedy, burlesque, and opera bouffe, particularly the two latter. NEAREST Railway Station, Temple; Omnibus Route, Strand. Cab Rank, St. Clement’s Church (north side).

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

    The Strand Theatre also was a highly popular resort, run exclusively by the Swanborough family and their numerous sisters, cousins and aunts. 
    To "The Old Lady" rightly or wrongly, was attributed every malaprop that ingenious wits invented, and, in later years, when the Doré Gallery and the Criterion Restaurant simultaneously came into existence, she was reputed to have expressed intense admiration of the Doré masterpiece "Christ leaving the Criterium".
    A pothouse - pure and simple - across the Strand was a favourite after-theatre resort of this (then) brightest of companies, and in a specially reserved room might nightly be seen sweet Nelly Bromley, young as ever, despite her youthful brood of dukes and duchesses and his Grace of Beaufort; Eleanor Bufton, Fanny Josephs, Fanny Hughes, and a host of others, all charming, clever, and young, and, alas! all passed away.
    The proprietor of this unpretentious hostelry was a pimply, fly-blown individual, who before you had been five minutes in his company told you that he was the rightful Duke of Norfolk, who by some legal jugglery had been choused out of his birthright; he, too, has long been swept away, and so the present peer remains unmolested in his title.
    Passing through the Strand not long since, I was attracted by the new Tube station, and entering its portals for "auld lang syne." I was distressed, but not surprised, to find nothing of the happy hum that once characterised the transformed spot. For here stood the little Strand Theatre of the sixties in all the glory of its original popularity before it was improved (?) and modernised only to find it had become out of the perspective, and so to be handed over to eternal obliteration.
    The old Strand may surely claim to be the root of the theatrical genealogical tree, for from its original stock (company) sprang ever sprig that struck root elsewhere to became famous either through theatrical enterprise, matrimonial enterprise, or any of the lucrative channels that commend themselves to commercial talent.
    For the phalanx that one once worked as a whole, would according to present custom, be split into a dozen "one-part" companies, with the necessary embroidery of Bodega men, motor-cum-masher women, and a sprinkling of earnest attitudes by way of cohesion.
    A few years later the family grouping that originally characterised the Strand was intruded upon by one H.B.Farnie, whose forte was the adaptation of opera-bouffe. Unquestionably an adept in this particular line, the man was a libertine of a pronounced character, with the result that the chorus at the Strand and the Opera Comique was the very daintiest conceivable. If a houri yielded to this Blue Beard's blandishments, her advancement was assured, and she was fitted to minor parts; if his overtures fell on deaf ears, nothing was too bad for her, and her lot was not a successful one. Occasionally, as a consequence, the hum-drum routine of a rehearsal was enlivened by such unrehearsed incidents as the appearance of an irate brother, and, on one occasion, an exasperated fishmonger from the Theobald's Road (the combination sounds boisterous), burst in at a critical period of a comic duet and belaboured the unhappy impresario to within an inch of his life.

'One of the Old Brigade' (Donald Shaw), London in the Sixties, 1908


Opened in 1803 as a panorama, and converted into a dissenting chapel in 1830, and a theatre 1831, opening as the New Strand (Subscription) Theatre in 1832, becoming New Strand Theatre in 1833, then Strand Theatre in 1850 and Punch's Playhouse (Strand Theatre) in 1851, then Strand Theatre in 1852. Became Royal Strand Theatre in 1858 and closed 1882. Rebuilt and opened as Royal Strand Theatre in 1882, closing 1905. [see Lost Theatres of London by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson for more information]