Royal Amphitheatre


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Venue Type & Location


Site Name: Royal Amphitheatre
Location: Liverpool
County: Lancashire
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location


  • Address: Originally, the venue's location was given as Great Charlotte Street. The current address of the same site is 1 Roe Street, Liverpool. For a current map,
    Click Here.

  • Alternate Names: Cooke’s New Circus, Cooke’s Royal Amphitheatre, Royal Court Theatre (1881-present)

  • Capacity: A description of the venue from the early 1830s suggests that it could hold 3000-4000 spectators.

  • Performance Space Description: In Annals of the Liverpool Stage, R.J. Broadbent gives the following description of the Amphitheatre’s exterior (c.1830): “The handsome front of the building in Great Charlotte Street consisted of stucco-work […] The exterior comprised three stories, of which the lowermost one was rusticated. Four Corinthian pilasters supported the pediment” (224).

    The auditorium itself seems to have been a rather large and tasteful affair, featuring both a proscenium stage and a ring for equestrian performances. A lengthy account of the venue interior (again, c. 1830) can be found in Allen’s Lancashire Illustrated. It reads: “It is said, by those who have had opportunities of forming an opinion on the subject, that [the Royal Amphitheatre] may claim the distinction of pre-eminence, both as to extent of accommodation and splendour of decoration, over every similar erection in the kingdom. […] The total length of the building is 135 feet by 76 feet wide. The roof presents a remarkable specimen of skilful carpentry, being so constructed as to span the whole breadth of the building, without any interior support. The stage is 51 feet long by 41 ½ feet, opening at the proscenium. […] The audience part of the house is fitted up in the most convenient, tasteful, and brilliant style. The front of the three tiers of boxes, and of the galleries, presents to the eye a prevailing mass of crimson ground, enriched with burnished gold mouldings and ornaments. A large and splendid gas chandelier, suspended from the ceiling, and numerous subsidiary ones ranged round the front of the boxes, serve to shed over the whole place the glow and radiance of an Oriental palace” (53).

  • Typical Fare: The Picture of Liverpool (1835) notes that the Royal Amphitheatre was “allotted to equestrian and pantomimic performances” (164). Between 1842 & 1852, however, these types of acts were supplemented and varied by ballets, operas, Greek tragedies, melodramas, musical interludes, farces, and productions of several of Shakespeare’s works. A concert by Jenny Lind in 1849 was also a big draw. (See Broadbent Annals of the Liverpool Stage for a more detailed breakdown of the entertainments offered at this venue).

  • Performance History

  • Though the Royal Amphitheatre was built and opened, at John Cooke’s instigation, in 1825-6, it was not fully completed and decorated until a few years later. All told, it cost more than 18,500 pounds to erect.

  • In 1881, the Amphitheatre was gutted, and its interior was reconstructed according to designs by Henry Summers. This newly renovated venue opened under the name of The Royal Court Theatre.

  • The remains of the original building were completely destroyed by fire in 1933. A new version of the Royal Court (still extant) was erected and opened in 1938.

    Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.

    Beth Marquis

  • Events at Royal Amphitheatre

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Variety 22 July 1844 - 27 July 1844 Liverpool, Lancashire Sweeney, J.W., Brower
    Variety 5 August 1844 - 10 August 1844 Liverpool, Lancashire Dunn, John, the British Jim Crow
    Variety 20 October 1845 - 25 October 1845 Liverpool, Lancashire Ethiopian Minstrels
    Variety 2 November 1846 - 7 November 1846 Liverpool, Lancashire Unknown Minstrel Troupe (Liverpool, 1846)
    Dramatic 9 November 1846 - 9 November 1846 Liverpool, Lancashire Kraye, Chester, Unknown Minstrel Troupe (Liverpool, 1846)
    Dramatic 10 November 1846 - 11 November 1846 Liverpool, Lancashire Unknown Minstrel Troupe (Liverpool, 1846)
    Dramatic 14 December 1846 - 19 December 1846 Liverpool, Lancashire Betty, Henry
    Dramatic 31 May 1847 - 5 June 1847 Liverpool, Lancashire Buffalo Gals Troupe (Liverpool, 47)
    Dramatic 15 May 1848 - 15 May 1848 Liverpool, Lancashire Cathcart
    Minstrel Show 14 August 1848 - 19 August 1848 Liverpool, Lancashire New Orleans Ethiopian Serenaders
    Dramatic 16 July 1849 - 21 July 1849 Liverpool, Lancashire Othello Troupe (Liverpool, 49)
    Dramatic 23 July 1849 - 23 July 1849 Liverpool, Lancashire Sullivan, Barry
    Dramatic 6 August 1850 - 6 August 1850 Liverpool, Lancashire Creole Troupe (Liverpool, 50)
    Dramatic 2 June 1851 - 2 June 1851 Liverpool, Lancashire Brooke, G.V.
    Dramatic 4 June 1851 - 4 June 1851 Liverpool, Lancashire Sullivan, Barry
    Dramatic 20 November 1851 - 20 November 1851 Liverpool, Lancashire Brooke, G.V.

    Bibliographic Sources

    • Allen, Thomas. Lancashire Illustrated. London: H. Fisher, R. Fisher & P. Jackson, 1832.
    • Arthur Lloyd Website. 05/22/2008 (

      (Under Liverpool - Royal Court Theatre)

    • Broadbent, R.J. Annals of the Liverpool Stage. Liverpool: Edward Howell, 1908.
    • Old Liverpool Theatres Website. 03/14/2008 (
    • The Picture of Liverpool, Or Stranger’s Guide. Liverpool: Thomas Taylor, 1835.
    • Royal Court Theatre Liverpool - A Brief History (Website). 03/14/2008 (