Staging History

The history of theatre in Britain is long and distinguished, and it is easy to argue that we have one of the richest theatre cultures in the world. Although it is typically in the big cities where the most famous, and the largest, theatres are found, most towns have their own theatres which are certainly a key part of the arts culture of the local community and may provide venues for touring national performances and groups. So where are the record theatre locations nationally, and in your own locality and county?

At the national scale, the oldest theatres in the UK are:

England                                The Theatre Royal, in Drury Lane London is the oldest theatre. The original theatre was built in 1662, while the current building, opened in 1812, is the fourth theatre on the site.

Scotland                              The Theatre Royal in Dumfries dates from 1793

Northern Ireland             The Grand Opera House, Belfast, was opened in 1895

Wales                                   The Savoy Theatre, Monmouth, dates from 1832


Elsewhere in the country, the oldest theatres in each of the English regions are

North West England       The Grand Theatre in Lancaster, Lancashire (1782)

North East England         The Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1867)

Yorkshire and Humberside The Grand Theatre, Richmond, North Yorkshire (1788)

West Midlands                 Birmingham Town Hall (1834)

East Midlands                   The Theatre Royal, Nottingham (1865)

East Anglia                        The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (1819)

South West England       The Theatre Royal, Bristol, which is the oldest continuously operating theatre in the UK. It is home to the Bristol Old Vic theatre company, and opened in 1766.

South East England         The Theatre Royal, Margate, in Kent (1787)

Each of these theatres continues to present plays, concerts and other events today. Visiting any of those in the list just requires a visit to their website for an indication of current performances and their location.


And Finally….!

The Must Get Out More Question !

Where are (a) the largest and (b) the smallest theatres in the UK?


The Answer to the Last Question

Where is the highest altitude football stadium in the Premier League, Football League or Scottish League?

The highest altitude football stadium in the top leagues in the UK is The Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion FC, in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. It was built in 1900, and sits at an altitude of 168m above sea level (Grid Reference SP02509020).

The highest football stadium in the senior Scottish leagues is the Excelsior Stadium, which is the home of Airdrieonians FC in Airdrie, Lanarkshire. It was built in 1998, and sits at an altitude of 148m above sea level. (Grid Reference NS77436473)


The Record Locations

You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at

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