Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Location: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Date: 2007
Client: Royal Shakespeare Company

A statue carved out of bricks at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

In 2007 MOLA carried out archaeological analysis and recording of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (formerly the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre), in Stratford-upon-Avon, ahead of its partial demolition and rebuilding.  This work was required as a condition of planning and Listed Building Consent for this statutorily listed grade II* building.

Alongside MOLA’s professional photography team, a built heritage record was created by our buildings archaeologists, of this complex multi-period building. Research and dating techniques enabled the team to piece together and record the history of the site, which incorporated the original theatre 1877-9 and the new theatre 1928-32. Particular attention was paid to aspects of architectural and historic significance. The stage machinery, lifts, lighting grid and flies were the subject of a separate analytical and recording exercise. A survey of documentary sources, referencing the history of the building, was carried out to historical contextualise the building’s construction, use and subsequent development. This was combined with dating evidence.

The analysis and recording succeeded in revealing the changing history of this important and much loved building; in particular highlighting the changes in theatre technology and techniques of performance that had left their mark on its design and architecture. The client benefitted from MOLA’s targeted approach, identifying features in the structure which were of particular interest and providing efficient, programmed recording. MOLA’s experienced photography team contributed high quality imagery delivering a visual record of the building, which was included in the final report.