The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
Theatre Royal, English Opera House.
This theatre occupies the site of a well-known building denominated the Lyceum, which was erected in , by James Payne, esq. a respectable architect, on ground formerly belonging to Exeter-house. For many years this house was the centre of speculation, and a great diversity of entertainments were offered to
| public attention within its walls. It was originally constructed for the exhibitions of the
which was incorporated by his late majesty, in . Subsequently the premises were purchased by Mr. Lingham, breeches maker in , who at different periods let them for various exhibitions. About , the back part from was rebuilt as a theatre by the late Dr. Arnold, but after its completion he was unable to obtain a license, through the opposition of the patentees of the winter theatres. In and , it was occupied by Mr. Charles Dibdin for his
by Mr. Handy and Mr. P. Astley (on the destruction by fire of his amphitheatre in ) for
by Cartwright for his
and by Philipstal for his
Afterwards Mr. Lonsdale had a highly interesting exhibition, entitled the
which consisted of some beautiful scenery by Porter, Mulready, Pugh, &c.; this was unsuccessful. Mr. (now sir Robert) Ker Porter, also exhibited several large paintings of the siege of Seringapatam, siege of Acre, &c.
About , Mr. Arnold, son of Dr. Arnold, obtained a license from the lord chamberlain for opening the Lyceum as an English opera house. Shortly afterwards the company commenced performing here by permission, in consequence of their own house being destroyed by fire.
In , Mr. Arnold (who had obtained a new lease for years from the marquis of Exeter, at an annual ground-rent of ) erected the present edifice on an enlarged scale, and at an expense of nearly
The architect was S. Beazley, esq. The theatre, with the exception of the narrow division which forms the facade in , is almost enclosed by the neighbouring houses. In the centre of this front is a small stone portico, consisting of Ionic columns supporting a balcony, on which is a tablet inscribed with the word
and, above, on the front of the house, are the words
The entrance to the boxes is by a passage from the portico in ; the approach to the pit and galleries is in Exeter court, on the west side of the theatre. The principal saloon is feet in length, and feet in width. The music saloon, which communicates with the tier of boxes, is feet in length by feet in width.
The form of the interior of the theatre, or auditory, is that of a lyre, the ends terminating at the stage. From the front of the centre boxes to the orchestra, is feet. The pit consists of lows of seats, and behind is a lobby with additional benches; it will hold persons. The interior is handsomely decorated, and from the ceiling depends a rich gas-lit chandelier. When full the house holds about