Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Currently home to: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The currant building is the most recent in a line of four theatres which were built at the same location, the earliest of which dates back to 1663, making it the oldest theatre site in London still in use. The first theatre on the site was built at the behest of Thomas Killigrew in the early 1660s, when theatres were allowed to reopen during the English Restoration. Initially known as “Theatre Royal in Bridges Street”, the theatre’s proprietors hired a number of prominent actors who performed at the theatre on a regular basis, including Nell Gwyn and Charles Hart. In 1672 the theatre caught fire and Killigrew built a larger theatre on the same plot, renamed the “Theatre Royal in Drury Lane”; it opened in 1674. This building lasted nearly 120 years, under the leaderships of Colley Cibber, Davis Garrick and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the last of whom employed Joseph Grimaldi as the theatre’s resident Clown. In 1791, under Sheridan’s management, the building was demolished to make way for a larger theatre which opened in 1794. This new Drury Lane survived for 15 years before burning down in 1809. The building that stands today opened in 1812.