Brass. Diameter 40mm. BATH THEATRE, both curved, above and below BOX. R. SECOND PRICES in two lines across field. AVF
W TB3 4; D&W page 1, 1; MG 358/9.
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The first theatre in Bath was built in 1705. It was demolished in 1737 to make way for the hospital, and the company moved to a room below Simpson’s Rooms. In 1750 another theatre was opened in Orchard Street and they were competitors until 1756 when John Palmer amalgamated them and they settled in Orchard Street.
The auditorium was rebuilt in 1767. In 1768 it became the first provincial Theatre Royal with a patent from George III. It was again rebuilt in 1774-5. This building was converted to a church in 1809 and became a Masonic Lodge in 1866.
John Palmer built a new, larger theatre in Saw Close in 1805; although this was to flourish for a while, it was in decline by the 1820s and in 1862 it was destroyed by fire.
Less than a year later the present Theatre Royal, with seating for 615 and 250 more in the gallery opened. It was taken over by a trust in 1979 and refurbished in 1982. There were further improvements in 1992 and the addition of the Ustinov Studio Theatre. It now has a seating capacity of around 950.
The prices charged at various periods were as follows:
About 1750: Pit 1s.6d., gallery 1s.
1786: boxes 4s., Pit 2s.6d., gallery 1s.6d., upper gallery 1s. 1805: boxes 5s., Pit 3s., gallery 1s.6d.; second price: boxes 3s., pit 2s., gallery 1s.
1851-3: dress boxes 2s.6d., upper boxes 1s.6d., pit 1s., gallery 6d. It had always been the custom for the main play or tragedy of an evening to be followed by a more light hearted piece so that audiences went home feeling relaxed and happy. It was a common practice to admit people after the third act of the main play at a reduced or second price. These tickets, which cost less, are marked SECOND PRICES on the reverse.
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