Theatreland Tour with Ian McKellen
Bull Inn Court
I wonder if you’re feeling a chill in this narrow backstreet? I shouldn’t be surprised. In 1897, this alley was the scene of a terrible murder.
It happened just by the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre. The door is half way up the alley, on your left. It’s tricky to find because there’s no sign. But I think you’ll manage it. There’s a bronze sculpture of some cogs on the wall opposite. That should help. Stop when you reach it.
The scene was set when a handsome star of the West End called William Terriss took a failing actor under his wing. This man was called Richard Archer Prince and Terriss helped him get parts and gave him money when he needed it. Much like I’ve always done for Patrick Stewart.
Despite Terriss’ help, it was here, by this stage door, that Prince stabbed Terriss to death. Prince was arrested and sent to Broadmoor, a prison for the criminally insane.
Henry Irving of the Lyceum Theatre, was a close friend of William Terriss and they’d performed together many times. Irving was disgusted at Prince’s sentence, seeing it as evidence of the acting profession’s lowly status.
As he wrote at the time “Terriss was an actor, and so his murderer will not be executed”.
Prince the murderer, meanwhile, continued his acting career inside Broadmoor. He lived for forty years in there and starred in many plays with the other inmates. He even conducted the prison orchestra. Success at last.
Now, continue up the alleyway. I’ll meet you where it opens up into the street.