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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Royalty House & Theatre
The former Royalty Theatre and home of Miss Fanny Kelly.
Location: 72-74 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3JG
Description: This is the one time home of famous Drury Lane actress Fanny Kelly and the theatre she built in her own back garden and that of her adjoining neighbour. Miss Kelly's Theatre, which opened in 1840, was also known at first as The Soho Theatre.
It lasted nearly one hundred years for most of that time as The Royalty, which it was renamed.
The Royalty closed on the 25th November 1938 after losing its license and although several schemes were considered for its rebuilding or reconstruction nothing came of them. The Theatre soon became derelict and was damaged in the Blitz. The Royalty Theatre was demolished in 1953 and an office building, Royalty House, was built on the site.
It was here in 1845 that Dickens brought together a group of friends, including his brother Frederick, Mark Lemon and John Forster to perform Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour (1598). Dickens acted as stage manager and director as well as playing the part of Captain Bobadil.
The play was performed before a specially invited audience on 21st September with, according to John Forster, ‘a success that that out-ran our wildest expectation; and turned our little enterprise into one of the small sensations of the day.’
Not everyone, however, was impressed. ‘Poor little Dickens!’ exclaimed Thomas Carlyle, ‘all painted in black and red, and affecting the voice of a man of six feet.’