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Shakespeare Memorial Theatre

 

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  • Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Other Information

  • Following the demolition in 1872 of a theatre on site, the decision was made in 1875 to erect a new more monumental complex that would properly celebrate Shakespeare. A competition was held and the winners were Dodgshun and Unsworth, a relatively obscure pair of Victorian architects who dreamed up a theatre, along with a connected museum, reading room and library.
  • The design is a strange mishmash of Early English, Tudor and Victorian Gothic Revival with a monumental tower and the performance area shaped like an ampitheatre from Shakespeare's day. Many of the external Gothic features were added to the building design after Dodgshun and Unsworth won the competition, with the embellishments gradually changing what would originally have been a much more Elizabethan design.
  • Authenticity was intended for the watching of plays with such features as imperfect sight-lines, something that rankled with the Victorian upper class more used to plays shown in higher technological settings, and the dimensions of the stage and auditorium taking on that which the architects believed to be contemporary to the plays that would be performed there. As such the interior of the building was frequently criticised as being singularly unsuitable for the performance of drama. George Bernard Shaw went as far as to call the structure "an admirable building, adaptable to every purpose except that of a theatre."
  • The demise of the building came through the decoration of exposed half timbers to try and hark back to the days of Elizabethan architecture. Unfortunately this was a fire hazard, and when fire broke out on the 6th of March 1926, it became impossible to put out as it took hold on the timbers and only the separate museum and library could be saved. The rest of structure eventually burned and had to be demolished. Today's Royal Shakespeare Theatre replaces it on the very same site.

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Architect
Dodgshun and Unsworth

Reference Data

Reference No.
6530
First Uploaded
31-03-2011
Last Editorial Date
31-03-2011
 

Building Location

Address
Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon. CV37 6BB
Council
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
County
Warwickshire
Region
West Midlands
Country
United Kingdom

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Building Specification

Status
Demolished
Proposal date
1875
Construction start date
1876
Completion date
1879
Demolition Date
1925
Style
Gothic Revival

Roof Height (AGL)
38.00

Total Floors (O.G)
3

Market Data

Primary Use
Museum


Metres > Feet