A Topographical and Statistical description of the County of Middlesex ,etc (1810) by George Alexander Cooke
Quitting Covent Garden, we proceed to Russel Street, in which is situated that enormous mass of
building, called the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The theatre, wiiich originally stood in this neighbourhood, was known by the appellations of the Cockpit or the Pheenix, of which names the latter was derived from its having the sign of that bird In the year 1662, about twenty-two years after the Restoration, a theatre was built upon the site of the present by Thomas Killegrew, who had obtained a patent for that purpose from King Charles. The performers were denominated the king's servants, and
ten of them, who were called gentlemen of the great chamber, had an allowance often yards of scarlet cloth, with a proportionate quantity of lace. This theatre was, however, destroyed by fire in the
year 1672, upon which another was built, under the superintendance of Sir Christopher Wren, but
unfortunately not according to his plans. The patentee of this theatre, Christopher Rich, was silenced by the Lord Chamberlain, on account of some misconduct, in the year 1709- In 1715 Sir Richard Steele obtained a license from,George I for establishing a company which was to continue during his life, and for three years after his decease; Wilks, Booth, and Gibber were his associates, and under them it flourished for a considerable time. At length, however, the deaths of the first, and secession of the latter of these, left the possession of the theatre to a Mr. Highmore, from whom it soon passed to Charles Fleetwood, neither of whom were successful In the year 1747 Garrick and Lacy commenced their successful campaigns, which were continued till the year 1776, when the dormant patent of Killegrew was purchased by the present proprietors, under whose direction the theatre was rebuilt in its present form, after the plan of Holland, and was first opened to the public in the year 1794.
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