Shakespeare Memorial Theatre

Elisabeth Scott, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1932


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View from across the Avon 

Herbert Felton     Download Original

  • View from across the Avon    
  • The theatre across the Avon showing the River Yerrace, the Main Stair Tower, and to the right, the tiver steps    
  • The exterior shows at a glance how it is planned    
  • The theatre across the Avon showing the River Yerrace, the Main Stair Tower, and to the right, the tiver steps    
  • The north front from the waterside approach    
  • The floor is paved with slabs of Ancaster and Hornton stone, and Ashburton marble and Derbyshire fossil are introduced in small quantities to give emphasis to the pattern    
  • Detail of the north front. The marquise and entrance doors are finished with aluminium allow and bronze. Blue Hornton stone has been used for the lining to the window reveals and the top of the balustrade walls    
  • The river terrace from the southern end of the loggia    
  • Detail of the entrance doors. The piers on each side of the doors are of brown bricks with horizontal courses in silver grey and centre squares in red. The remainder of the brickwork is brown. The plinth is of blue Hornton stone    
  • The entrance foyer seen from the ante, showing the main entrance doors on the left. The walls are lined with fawn-coloured brick, and the door surrounds are of Swedish-green marble and stainless steel    
  • A curtained approach to the antem between the staircase hall and entrance foyer, seen through the plate-glass panels of an open entrance door    
  • The main exit door, an ambitious combination of timbers from across the world, including Australia and Hunduras    
  • The pay box seen through the entrance doorway. The outer doors - which when open, act as linings to the jambs - are covered with anodized aluminium plates, each of which has a triangular projection at one corner for fixing    
  • At the foot of the staircase. The floor is paved with slabs of Ancaster and Hornton stone, and the walls are lined with fawn-coloured brick    
  • The fountain was designed by Gertrude Hermes. The circular rim is in dark Hornton stone, and the basin is lined with coloured vitreous mosaics. The jet holder is carved in an abstract menner from a hexagonal block of Verdi de Prata marble    
  • A view of the upper flights of the staircase fom the first landing. The reinforced concrete balustrade is covered by slabs of Swedish-green marble    
  • The staircase hall and fountain in dress-circle plan    
  • Detail of the silver-bronze handrail at the head of the main stair    
  • The circle foyer showing the position of the bar and windows. Quarter inch boards of Australian walnut and Indian bomwe are laid to form a pattern on the floor, and this interest is added by the occasional introduction of dark strips of Indian laurel    
  • The bar. The rear wall is lined with stained sycamore and the ends with rosewood, divided into panels by fillets of Honduras mahogany. The counter front is faced with a veneer of English burr-elm, and has a skirting of gurjan and a nosing of ebony    
  • The gallery bar. Two shades of cork are used for the floor. The bar is of stained deal, and the bar fittings in aluminium allow and glass    
  • The ante between dress-circle and circle foyer    
  • The proscenium from the dress circle. The act-drop curtain, designed by Walpole Champneys is in black, crimson, gold, silver and white velvet    
  • The dress circle. The vertical face at the rear of the circle, beyond which is the gallery, is lined with pleated fabric for acoustical purposes    
  • Door from the main staircase to the restaurant, in blistered mahogany, with horizontal bands of ebonyalong which representations of the tools used by various trades employed on the building    
  • The ground floor restaurant    
  • The service screen and bar in the ground-floor refreshment room    
  • Sculptures cared in brick by Eric Kennington on the facade. The three subjects are called     
  • Air view of the building from the west, showing the layout of Bancroft Gardens only partially completed. Waterside Road can be seen across the lower portion of the picture    
  • Block plan    
  • The basement plan    
  • Gallery floor plan    
  • Mezzanine plan    
  • Cross section through stage    
  • Cross section through auditorium    
  • Long section    
  • Front elevation    
  • East elevation    
  • West elevation    
  • Elevation of side wall to auditorium    
  • Plan of the Gallery Bar    
  • Development of Gallery floor plan    
  • Development of Mezzanine floor plan    
  • Acoustic diagram    
  • Acoustic diagram2    
  • Elevation of old Shakespeare Memorial Theatre    
  • The entrance doors    
  • Section through the bar in the circle foyer. The materials indicated by letters are given in the description of the elevation    
  • An elevational drawing of the bar    

Functional 1,500-seat theatre situated on the banks of the River Avon, to replaced the original theatre, which burnt down

The building is clearly read and displays its plan at first sign and from every angle. There is little detail to the decoration, simply a few inconspicuous and mysterious carvings in brick.

The quality of the interior is clear immediately with a beautiful pale-green marble staircase. The main theatre has a proscenium arch that spans the whole of the 1,500 capacity space. Elsewhere in the building there are a number of art deco features, notably the numerous exotically designed doors.

The scheme was once referred to as ‘The New Soviet Barracks at Stratford’ upon its completion in 1932, however, it is now Grade II listed.


  • Begun: 1928
  • Completed: Apr 1932
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £176,400
  • Funding: Public Subscription
  • Tender date: 1928
  • Address: Royal Shakespeare Company, The Courtyard Theatre, Southern Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BB, United Kingdom

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