Charles J. Phipps

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Charles J. Phipps
Phipps in 1890
Bath, England
Died(1897-05-25)25 May 1897
Known forSavoy Theatre

Charles John Phipps FSA, known as C.J. Phipps (1835 – 25 May 1897) was an English architect best known for his theatres.


Born in Bath, his first major work was the rebuilding of Theatre Royal, Bath in 1862/3, after the old theatre had been destroyed by fire. Moving to London, he quickly established himself as the leading theatrical architect, building, in rapid succession, the Queen's Theatre (1867), the Gaiety Theatre (1868), the Olympic Theatre (1870) and the Vaudeville Theatre (1871).[1] Phipps designed the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin for John and Michael Gunn, opened in November 1871.[2] Phipps's Savoy Theatre (1881), a state-of-the-art facility, was the first public building in the world lit entirely by electric light.[1]

Other major London theatres included the Strand (1882), the Prince's (1884), the Lyric (1888), the original Shaftesbury Theatre (1888), the Garrick (1889), the Tivoli (1890) and Daly's (1893).

In addition to Phipps's London theatres, he was responsible for over forty theatres in the provinces. He also designed Leinster Hall in Dublin for Michael Gunn (opened in 1886 and closed in 1895), the Star and Garter Hotel at Richmond (demolished in 1919) and the Savoy Turkish Bath.

Phipps was chosen to design the Royal Institute of British Architects’ own premises at 9 Conduit Street. The building is still there, though no longer occupied by the RIBA (now in Portland Place) and is considered by some to reflect the influence of the architect's native town. He was a fellow (1866) of the Royal Institute of British Architects, serving on its council in 1875–6, and also of the Society of Antiquaries.[3]

Family grave of Charles J Phipps in Highgate Cemetery

Phipps died on 25 May 1897, aged 62, and is buried in a family grave on the east side of Highgate Cemetery.


On 10 April 1860, he married Miss Honnor Hicks, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. For some time previous to his death he had been associated in partnership with his son-in-law, Arthur Blomfield Jackson.[3]


Among the theatres Phipps designed, or co-designed, are:

Gallery of architectural work[edit]


  1. ^ a b Burgess, Michael. "Richard D'Oyly Carte", The Savoyard, January 1975, pp. 7–11
  2. ^ Kerins, Des (2009), The Gaiety Theatre, South King Street, Dublin,, retrieved 27 July 2020
  3. ^ a b Waterhouse 1901.
  4. ^ "C.J. Phipps, architect of the theatre". The Savoyard. 20 (2): 7. September 1981.
  5. ^ Earl and Sell (2000) pp. 250
  6. ^ Earl and Sell (2000) pp. 133

Wikisource This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWaterhouse, Paul (1901). "Phipps, Charles John". Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.


  • Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 279–82 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3

External links[edit]