Theatreland Tour with Ian McKellen
First View of the Lyceum
Ah, up ahead is one of the great theatres of 19th century London, the Lyceum.
I want you to cross the street and walk down the right hand side. And you’re going to stop just before the big pillars outside the Lyceum Theatre.
The Lyceum was run by the actor-manager Henry Irving, one of the titans of Theatreland. Over a lifetime of producing shows, Irving had invested everything in his collection of props, costumes and scenery for 44 plays.
They were his security, his greatest asset, what he hoped to retire on. And they were all stored away safely in a bone dry, oxygen-rich and completely wooden warehouse. (sighs) Yes you’ve guessed it. He lost the lot in an enormous fire and he wasn’t insured.