Drury Lane and the Theatre Royal

Renowned for being the home of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane has a colourful past stretching back to the fourteenth century. Named after Sir Thomas Drury, who built a house here during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it peaked as a select and fashionable neighbourhood in C16-17. However, one hundred years later, it had descended into a rowdy thoroughfare, replete with gin shops and prostitutes – and the focus of Hogarth’s ‘The Harlot’s Progress’. By C19 it comprised barely habitable slum housing before being cleared in the early C20 – and leaving us with today’s city-centre living two minutes from the heart of Covent Garden. Here are some images of the key sights, walking up this historic lane from south to north.

Where is Drury Lane? Click to see map.

Tickets for related tours and experiences:

The London Pass – with access to 80+ attractions

The London Go City Explorer Pass

The Theatre Royal was established under the sponsorship of King Charles II in 1663, after eleven years of cultural austerity under Cromwell and the puritan government. It was one of few that held a licence as a ‘patent theatre’ meaning it could put on serious drama. Today’s building dates from 1812 by Benjamin Wyatt. Home to many first’s in the theatrical world, it was where Nell Gwynne made her debut in 1665 in front of the smitten King Charles.
The foyer of the Theatre Royal
The quirky Sarastro restaurant – Turkish cuisine with live entertainment
Sarastro restaurant
St Clement Danes primary school with roof top playground
State of the art public residences of the late C19, built to replace the slum housing of the previous century
Drury Lane Gardens: one of five of the first public gardens in London, built on the sites of former burial grounds
When regular student halls, just don’t cut it
Freemasons Hall
William Hogarth would have approved!
Gillian Lynne Theatre
Cheap eats at Cafe de Provence (north end)
Smart eats at Drury (north end)
There has been a public house on the site of The White Hart since the fifteenth century
And leaving us a sense that gentrification is still a relatively modern phenomenon, just north of Drury Lane

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