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Georgian Theatre Royal
The UK’s most complete Georgian playhouse is situated in Richmond, North Yorkshire – winner of the Great Town Award 2009. Serving as both a thriving community playhouse and a living theatre museum, the Georgian Theatre Royal welcomes visitors of all ages to its year-round performances and hourly guided tours. Built by actor-manager Samuel Butler in 1788 and forming part of Butler’s theatre circuit, the theatre opened with “Inkle & Yarico”, a comic opera by George Colman, and “The Midnight Hour”, a comedy by Elisabeth Inchbald. In 1848 the theatre closed but, following a campaign, was restored and re-opened in 1963. A second restoration and refurbishment was undertaken in 2002/03. Britain’s oldest scenery, The Woodland Scenery, is also housed in the museum. The theatre’s unique configuration includes seating on stage (side boxes). This brings an authentic immediacy, as experienced by 18th century British theatre-goers.

Georgian Theatre Royal · Victoria Road · Richmond · North Yorkshire · DL10 4DW · Great Britain · Tel.: +44 (0)1748 823710 · Tel. box office: +44 (0)1748 825252 · E-mail: ·

Visits: guided tours Mid February – Mid December 10:00 – 16:00 Monday – Saturday.
Please check in advance

Richmond T.I.C.
Tel.: +44 (0)1748 828 742

The Malt Cross
16 St James‘s Street, Nottingham, NG1 6FG

Open 11:00 – 23:00 except Sundays.
Food is served generally from 12:00 – 20:00 during the week,
12:00 – 17:00 on Saturday.

Nottingham T.I.C.
Tel.: +44 (0)8444 77567

Adelina Patti Theatre
The soprano Adelina Patti (1843–1919) was brought up by her Italian parents mostly in New York. Following her London appearance in 1861 she became the primadonna assoluta of her time. She made England her home and Covent Garden her harbour from where she set sail to the opera houses of the world. In 1878 she bought a country house in the hilly woodlands near Swansea; it had been built a few years before in the form of a neo-Gothic castle. In 1891, when Patti was thinking of retirement, the architects Bucknall & Jennings added a private theatre to the castle where she continued to perform for her guests. The theatre has been preserved entirely, including the stage, stage machinery, scenery, and a painted front curtain showing Patti in her role as Semiramide. The floor of the auditorium can be raised to stage level to form a continuous ballroom. The castle itself is now a hotel, surrounded by 40 acres of country park.

Craig-y-Nos Castle · Abercrave · Powys · SA9 1GL · Wales · Great Britain · Tel.: +44 (0)1639 73 11 67 · E-mail: ·

Visits: the theatre is open to visitors every day unless used for weddings or other events

Swansea T.I.C.
Tel.: +44 (0)1792 468 321

Most theatres existing in Britain today were built during Queen Victoria’s reign 1837–1901. This is also true for the 165 theatres in London. From Shakespeare’s time, the foundations of two theatres have survived. In the basement of Rose Court, Bankside, the remains of the “Rose Theatre” from 1587 can be seen, whereas the remains of Shakespeare’s own theatre, “The Globe” (1599), were covered again after they had been discovered in 1989. Today cobblestones in different colours mark what was found underneath at 34 Park Street. On the other side of Southwark Bridge, a new Globe Theatre opened in 1997. Today it is a thriving centre of Shakespeare performances (between May and September) and Shakespeare research and education. Guided tours include visits to the “Rose” remains in the afternoon (

The two most eminent theatres in London are the two “patent theatres” Drury Lane and Covent Garden. The patent of 1662 stipulated that only these two theatres were allowed to perform legitimate drama – Covent Garden became an opera house only in 1848. The present building dates from 1858, with many later changes and additions. Drury Lane opened in 1663 and burned down several times; the present building dates from 1812, the auditorium from 1922. Both theatres offer daily guided tours.

Recommended for their architectural beauty are the “Criterion Theatre” (1874, London’s first underground theatre), the “Palace Theatre” (1891), and the “Wyndham’s” (1899). But with such a wealth of theatre buildings to choose from, every visitor can discover his own favourites.

Theatre programme:

London Visitor Centre
Tel: +44 (0)8701 566 366

Theatre Royal
Situated in the picturesque market town of Bury St Edmunds in the county of Suffolk and built in 1819 by the eminent neoclassical architect William Wilkins, the Theatre Royal is the only surviving Regency theatre in the UK. It provided theatrical entertainment for Bury and the surrounding area, including the magnificent nearby stately home Ickworth House. After a colourful history and a 40-year stint as barrel store for a brewery, the theatre has been almost completely restored to its 1819 appearance and offers a year-round programme of drama, dance, music and opera. It is unique in performing the almost forgotten English drama repertoire of the 18th and 19th century and is quickly developing into an important centre for Georgian theatre study and practice.

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds · 6 Westgate Street · Bury St Edmunds · Suffolk IP33 1QR · Great Britain · Tel. box office: +44 (0)1284 769 505 · E-mail: ·

Visits: open doors and guided tours for individual visitors; please ring the box office for details or visit our website. Guided tours for groups on appointment only; please ring
+44 (0)1284 829 957 or e-mail

Bury St Edmunds T.I.C.
Tel.: +44 (0)1284 764667

De Leidse Schouwburg is located in the picturesque city centre of Leiden, only 20 minutes from Amsterdam. In 1705 actor Jacob van Rijndorp received permission to construct the first public theatre in Holland on the site of a burned down brewery. The building was enlarged in 1865 by architect Jan Willem Schaap. He designed the current horseshoe-shaped auditorium that is renowned for its excellent acoustics and perspective. In the 1970’s the theatre was saved from demolition but it was the extensive restoration campaign in 1997 that revived the brilliant splendour of the “grand old lady.”
Today its 541 seats are taken by approximately 90,000 spectators each year who enjoy a variety of more than 230 performances in the stunning ambiance of chandeliers, plush and red carpets.

Leidse Schouwburg · Oude Vest 43 · 2312 XS Leiden · The Netherlands · Tel.: +31 (0)71 5163899 · E-mail: ·

Visits: guided tours can be booked by telephone or on the Internet

Leiden Tourist Information Office
Tel.: +31 (0)900 222 23 33 (0,50 €/minute)

Théâtre Royal du Parc
An idea that spread from Britain to the continent was the Vauxhall, a pleasure garden with an open-air café where concerts and dramatic performances were given, named after the first location of its kind that opened in London in 1660. In Brussels, the Bultos brothers commissioned such a Vauxhall in 1780 at one side of the park in the city centre. Two years later, the theatre building by the architect Louis Montoyer was added for indoor performances. Most of the Vauxhall ensemble has been preserved, although only the theatre and the adjoining ball room are in operation today. From light entertainment the programme definitely changed to drama in 1879, performed exclusively in French from the 1930’s onward. The intimate “bonbonnière” style auditorium seats 550 spectators. Performances every day except Mondays from September to May.

Théâtre Royal du Parc · rue de la Loi, 3 · 1000 Bruxelles · Belgium · Tel.: +32 (0)2 505 30 40 · Tel. box office: +32 (0)2 505 30 30 · E-mail: ·

Visits: during performances and on appointment

Brussels International
Tel.: +32 (0)2 513 89 40

In 1840, rich Ghent industrialists inaugurated a new, luxurious opera house, a showcase for their considerable, newly acquired wealth. It is a unique, L-shaped building featuring a concert room, a ball room, and a foyer on the first floor that form an enfilade of 90 metres and lead to the lavishly decorated auditorium behind them. The opulent, harmonious interplay of architecture, painting and sculpture was carefully restored 1991–93, although the front rooms still feature a later colour scheme. The venue’s crowning glory is the impressive chandelier and the ceiling painted with trompe l’oeil effects. Today the theatre is one of two venues for the Antwerp-based Flemish opera company (Vlaamse Opera) offering opera and ballet as well as lunchtime concerts and international guest productions.

Vlaamse Opera Gent · Schouwburgstraat 3 · 9000 Gent · Belgium · Tel.: +32 (0)9 268 10 11 · E-mail: ·

Visits: guided tours once a month on Saturday during the season; please consult website.
Guided tours for groups on appointment, please contact

Ghent Tourist Office
Tel.: +32 (0)9 266 56 60

Théâtre du château
The Lords of Chimay – who became Princes in 1482 – ruled the Chimay region from 1241. Their castle was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1935 – but for the theatre to which a new building in the style of Henri IV was attached. The theatre had been commissioned in 1861 by Joseph II, 16th Prince of Chimay. He had served the new Kingdom of Belgium as ambassador and at the same time acted as mayor of Chimay. Invited by him, Trappist monks founded the famous Scourmont abbey. As architect of the new theatre the Prince chose the French architect and stage designer Charles-Antoine Cambon (1802–1875). He brought with him the plans of the first theatre at Fontainebleau that had burned down in 1856. Now Cambon created a new version of this French theatre in Chimay: a jewel in the crown of Belgian theatres. Inaugurated in 1863, it seats 200 spectators and is used occasionally for concerts.

Château de Chimay · 14 rue du château · 6460 Chimay · Belgium · E-mail: ·

Visits: from Easter to end of September daily
at 10:00, 11:00, 15:00, 16:00; groups on appointment only

Chimay Promotion asbl
Tel.: +32 (0)60 21 54 04

The Channel Route

The Channel Route leads to selected historic theatres in Great Britain and - across the Channel - in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Richmond Nottingham Craig-y-Nos London Bury St. Edmunds Leiden Brussels Ghent Chimay

From Shakespeare's time onward, British theatre history has been the story of commercial enterprises. Some managers of travelling theatre companies built theatres in various cities to form a circuit on which they could perform all year round by travelling from one of their theatres to the next. Britain’s most complete Georgian playhouse was built on such a circuit: the Georgian Theatre Royal (1788) in Richmond, North Yorkshire, where the Route starts. Another theatrical enterprise developed in Queen Victoria’s days: the music hall. On the way south, a nice stop for lunch is the “Malt Cross” in Nottingham, a small and beautiful music hall from 1877 that is still run as a pub and concert venue (closed on Sundays). In Wales, near Swansea, the international opera star Adelina Patti added a private theatre to her castle in 1891. It is entirely preserved, including the stage, whereas Craig-y-Nos Castle has been transformed into a boutique hotel – a great place to stay for every theatre lover.

Via London with its abundance of theatres and shows the Route leads to the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds. Opened in 1819 as part of the Norwich circuit of theatres, it is the only Regency theatre left in the UK today.

From nearby Harwich ferry boats take you across the Channel to Hoek van Holland.

Although the Dutch have a long theatre tradition, more than half of the theatre buildings in the Netherlands date from after 1945, and the older ones have been remodelled again and again. The oldest still operating theatre in the country, the Schouwburg in Leiden that opened in 1705, is a perfect example.

When the Dutch founded their Republic in 1581, the Southern Netherlands remained occupied by a succession of foreign powers. In 1831 they finally became independent as the Kingdom of Belgium. The history of this country is mirrored in the Théâtre Royal du Parc in Brussels, founded in 1782, a “bonbonnière” style theatre so typical for this region. In nearby Ghent, a unique example of a Flemish opera house can be found, complete with a suite of three stately halls stretching for 180 feet, leading to an equally magnificent auditorium (1840/1887). A couple of hours to the south, the private theatre in the palace of Chimay, inaugurated in 1863, illustrates the connections between this part of the country and France.

From here one can either drive into France or continue the journey on the German Route of the “European Route of Historic Theatres.”

Or find more theatres offering guided tours in the three countries on the website Visit Theatres.

With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union