Theatre Royal, Edinburgh

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MA(1829) p.143 - Theatre Royal, Edinburgh - Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.jpg
1911 postcard of the Theatre Royal, Broughton Street, Edinburgh

There have been two sites with Theatre Royal in Edinburgh. The first Theatre building on Princes Street opened 1769 and is shown before it was rebuilt in 1830 by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd. The second site was in Broughton Street.


The first Theatre Royal was in Shakespeare Square, at the east end of Princes Street.[1] This was opened 9 December 1769 by actor manager David Ross. Mary Bulkley performed here during the 1780s.[2] In July 1792 Harriet Pye Esten became the theatre manager when she purchased the lease. The theatre had been run by Stephen Kemble but he lost the rights to perform which were withdrawn by Esten's lover Douglas Hamilton, 8th Duke of Hamilton. In 1794 Esten returned the rights to Stephen Kemble to perform in Edinburgh in exchange for £200 a year.[3]

In 1809 the theatre was taken over by Sarah Siddons's actor son, Henry Siddons. It went into a period of decline under his control, but following his death in 1815 was revived by his wife, Harriet Siddons and her brother William Henry Murray who controlled the theatre until 1851.[4]

The theatre was at its peak from 1815 to 1850, and it was rebuilt in 1830.

The first theatre was demolished in 1859 to make way for the building of the General Post Office.

The royal patent and title was then transferred to the Queen's Theatre and Operetta House in a site in Broughton Street, on an earlier Circus (previously the Adelphi Theatre). The manager of the theatre was Robert Henry Wyndham. It burned down and was rebuilt in 1865, 1875, and 1884, each time retaining the patent. The last architect was Charles Phipps when in 1884 it was leased to Cecil Beryl of the Princess's Theatre, Glasgow. [5] This Theatre Royal became part of Howard & Wyndham Ltd formed in Glasgow in 1895. From the 1920s Howard & Wyndham leased it out to Fred Collins, lessee of Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre, as the Theatre Royal Varieties, with the Collins family establishing its wardrobe and production centre adjacent. [6] It was destroyed by fire in 1946 and not rebuilt only due to post-war shortages of building materials. [7]


  1. ^ 55°57′11″N 3°11′24″W / 55.953°N 3.190°W / 55.953; -3.190
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Bulkley née Wilford; other married name Barresford, Mary, by John Levitt
  3. ^ "Esten [née Bennett; other married name Scott-Waring], Harriet Pye (1761?–1865), actress | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/39766
  4. ^ Grants Old and New Edinburgh
  5. ^ Edinburgh Telegraph 26 December 1884
  6. ^
  7. ^

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