Jacobs Well Theatre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jabobs Well Theatre
Jabobs Well Theatre is located in Bristol
Jabobs Well Theatre
Jabobs Well Theatre
Address Bristol
Coordinates 51°27′11″N 2°36′36″W / 51.453°N 2.610°W / 51.453; -2.610
Opened 1729
Closed c. 1800
Demolished c. 1800
Years active 1729–1799
John Hippisley

The Jacobs Well Theatre was a playhouse in Cliftonwood, Bristol, England, which opened in 1729. It took its name from the nearby Jacobs's Well, which may have been a mikveh, a type of Jewish ritual bath. The theatre was built by actor John Hippisley, who had created the character of Peachum in the premiere of John Gay's Beggar's Opera.[1] The stage space was so small that actors exiting on one side had to walk around the building to re-enter on the other side, often being subject to banter by spectators enjoying this free show.[2] A hole was knocked through a party wall to an adjacent ale house, The Malt Shovel, so that actors, and audience seated on the stage, could obtain refreshments.[3] Admission prices ranged from 1 shilling to 3 shillings, and it was estimated that a full house could earn as much as £80. Servants of patrons were admitted free of charge to an upper gallery.[4] In later years, Thomas Chatterton described the theatre as a "hut".[5]

The journey to the theatre from fashionable areas such as Queen Square and College Green was somewhat perilous, especially on dark nights, and consequently the theatre often provided linkboys to light the way with torches.[6] Notable actors who appeared at the theatre included Charles Macklin, William Powell, and Thomas King, who were all stars of the Georgian stage.[7] After Hippisley's death in 1748, the business was continued by his widow.[8] When the Theatre Royal opened in King Street in 1776 most actors left the Jacobs Well Theatre as the new venue proved to be more fashionable. The last recorded performance at Jacobs Well was a pantomime in 1779.[9]

See also[edit]

Works cited[edit]


  1. ^ Powell, p. 12
  2. ^ Powell, p. 13
  3. ^ Latimer, pp. 63–64
  4. ^ Powell, pp. 12–13
  5. ^ Powell, p. 19
  6. ^ Watts, p. 44
  7. ^ Watts, pp. 47–56
  8. ^ Powell, p. 18
  9. ^ Watts, p. 59