Opera House, Royal Tunbridge Wells

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Opera House
The Opera House, Tunbridge Wells - geograph.org.uk - 1738968.jpg
The Opera House
General information
TypeOpera house
Architectural styleEdwardian Baroque
Town or cityRoyal Tunbridge Wells
OwnerJ D Wetherspoon
Design and construction
ArchitectJohn Briggs
Awards and prizesGrade II listed building

The Opera House is a former opera house and current pub in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. It is also a Grade II listed building.[1]


Construction was completed in 1902 to designs by architect John Briggs.[2] When it was opened, it had a capacity of 1,100. In 1913, the Opera House hosted a series of charity fundraising concerts gather funds to rebuild the Nevill Ground's cricket pavilion after the original pavilion was destroyed in a suffragette arson attack.[3] The Opera House was purchased by Union Cinemas in 1931 and turned into a cinema.[4]

The Opera House was bombed in the Second World War. The bomb did not explode but instead got caught in the proscenium arch above the stage and set fire to the inside of the Opera House, leading to a renovation before eventual re-opening in 1949.[5] It was later turned into a bingo hall in the 1960s after threats to demolish it.[5][6] In November 1966, the Opera House was granted Grade II listed status.[1]

In 1996, the Opera House was purchased by J D Wetherspoon and was turned into a public house.[2] In 2006, the Opera House again hosted an opera performance, of Handel's Tamerlano.[7] More recently there have been annual performances by Kent-based ‘The Merry Opera Company’ with Troy Boy, La traviata, The Magic Flute, Kiss Me, Figaro!,[8] The Barber of Seville, and in 2016, La Boheme.[9]


The Opera House

The interior was designed in Edwardian Baroque and Neo-Georgian styles. The exterior includes a Baroque dome on the roof.[2] The dome originally had a nude statue of Mercury on the top, which was removed in the 1920s, either because it was unstable in poor weather or was viewed as sinful by local residents.[5] In 1923, the main staircase was altered to include an 18th-century painting of revelers.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Historic England (1966-11-24). "The Opera House (1338803)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  2. ^ a b c "Opera House (Tunbridge Wells)". The Theatres Trust. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  3. ^ "Blowing up a blind man and his dog". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  4. ^ "Old Cinemas - Tunbridge Wells". Cinematopia. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  5. ^ a b c "The Opera House". Trinity Theatre. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  6. ^ "Opera House". Heritage Open Days. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  7. ^ "Tamerlano at The Opera House in Tunbridge Wells". This is Kent. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  8. ^ "Tunbridge Wells pub reverts to opera house for day". https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk. BBC. Retrieved 23 September 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  9. ^ Tunbridge Wells - The Official Tourism Website for Tunbridge Wells http://www.visittunbridgewells.com/whats-on/at-the-opera-house-p236061. Retrieved 19 March 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)

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