The New International Encyclopædia/Drury Lane Theatre
DRURY LANE THEATRE. A famous London playhouse. It was first built, under royal patent, in 1663, by Thomas Killigrew (q.v.), whose company was known as the King's Company, in distinction from the Duke's Company of Davenant (q.v.). The house was originally called the Theatre Royal. Burned in 1672, it was rebuilt in 1674 from designs by Sir Christopher Wren. In the years that followed, rivalry between the two companies was so ill-sustained that in 1682 they were united. A dozen years later, however, Betterton (q.v.) and others of the company made their well-known secession to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and in 1709 continued bad management brought the theatre to a close. Colley Cibber and his associates renewed its prosperity, and Carrick's management, which followed (1746-76), was perhaps the most famous in its history, with ‘Peg’ Wollington and ‘Kitty’ Clive as leading stars. In 1791 the old building made way for a new structure which was opened three years later and managed by Sheridan. In 1809 this again was destroyed by fire, and in 1812 the present house was opened. The acting of Kean gave it prosperity for a time, but since his day Drury Lane and its managers have suffered numerous vicissitudes. In recent years it has been devoted largely to spectacular pieces and English opera. Consult: Stirling, Old Drury Lane (London, 1881), and Doran, In and About Drury Lane (London, 1881).