Theatre Royal

Photo:Mrs. Nellie Nye Chart, c. 1900

Mrs. Nellie Nye Chart, c. 1900

Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Henry Nye Chart appointed manager 1854

Reproduced with permission from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

b) NYE and NELLIE CHART: A series of managers had control after Brunton left in 1811, but the theatre's fortunes waned until actor Henry 'Nye' Chart of the theatre's own company was appointed manager in 1854; he made some immediate changes to the interior with the removal of the royal box and the addition of backs to the pit benches. In 1866 Chart formed a syndicate to buy the theatre outright, and it was then rebuilt by Charles Phipps in the summer and autumn of 1866; a conservatory was built out from the first floor over the colonnade and new galleries were added, increasing the capacity to 1,900. The Theatre Royal reopened on 15 October 1866. Chart then also started to lease 9 New Road on the other side of the Colonnade Hotel for use as a property and scenery store.
Nye Chart, who died aged fifty-five on 17 June 1876, left the theatre to his wife Elizabeth 'Nellie' Chart; she assumed full control and managership, and further enhanced its reputation. Touring companies brought new productions to the town, and 'morning performances' or 'flying matinees' were introduced with a London company bringing their production down for a single daytime performance before returning to the capital for that evening. The theatre was also known for its pantomimes, and a free performance was given every Christmas for the workhouse inmates.
In 1883 Mrs Chart purchased 9 New Road for use as her own residence, and in 1889 formed the Brighton Theatre Royal Company with Henry Infield as chairman; Infield and Mrs Chart herself acted as managing directors. The company then purchased the theatre and house from Nellie for £43,000. When she died in London on 23 February 1892, the Theatre Royal's reputation as one of the leading provincial theatres was well-established.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

This page was added on 08/04/2008.
Comments about this page

There is a slight confusion here in the buildings. No.8 and no.9 now form the same building but No 8 ran along the ground floor to the back of the building where stables used to be. No 9 had a staircase running up from the ground floor up to the main body of the building. No 9 was actually purchased on a mortgage of £1800 by Mr Nye Chart in 1866 for use as a private residence. Mrs Nye Chart did not purchase it in 1883, she actually paid off the mortgage in full. No.8 New Road, which is now the main entrance of the theatre and stalls bar was used as the property and scenery store.

By Paul (23/05/2011)

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