The Theatre, a fine example of the larger late Georgian playhouse, was designed by William Wilkins the younger (1778–1839). The auditorium of 1819, with its elegantly curved tiers of boxes and largely intact backstage structure, makes this one of only three theatres in the United Kingdom to preserve the characteristics of the pre-Victorian playhouse. Wilkins’ study of ancient Greece, central to European neoclassicism, is plainly evident in its design. He was architect of the National Gallery, London, and Downing College, Cambridge, and son of the architect, antiquarian and theatre proprietor William Wilkins the elder (1751–1815).
Long used as an annex to a brewery, since its restoration in 1962–1963 it has been reopened as a theatre. A 999-year lease was given to the National Trust by Greene, King & Sons in 1974, after which it was more thoroughly restored. The restoration included the recreation of a curious proscenium frieze, with 17 painted cut-out figures, including the Seasons, the Graces, Apollo and the Muses.
This location is open to the public
Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, IP33 1QR
If you are planning a visit to see a particular painting, check with the location first. Paintings can be moved at short notice