The Original Architectural Twin Theatres: Waldorf and Aldwych

The Novello, originally named the Waldorf Theatre

Yes, that’s right…before the architectural twins of Hicks Theatre (the Gielgud) and Queen’s Theatre (the Sondheim) were designed and constructed in 1906 and 1907, the Waldorf Theatre opened May 22, 1905 followed by its twin on the other end of the block, the Aldwych Theatre, opened on Dec 23, 1905. They shared in common that they were designed by the theatre architect W. G. R. Sprague.

Ground floor and first floor, the Novello, 2006

Of the newly built Waldorf, the Guardian had this to say Oct 18, 1905, p. 5:

Both the Gaiety Theatre and Gaiety Hotel are exceptionally fine structures…This cannot be said of the new Waldorf Theatre, good in its details but unhappy in its proportions. The lower portions are too tall, and give the building the appearance of being on stilts. Possibly and iron and glass weather roof will be projected over the pavement from the rez-de-chaussee, and will get rid of this unpleasant appearance.

The Waldorf occupied one corner of Aldwych street and the Aldwych Theatre was located on the opposite corner. The Waldorf Hotel was situated between the two. The Waldorf was renamed the Strand in 1909, the Whitney in 1911, and became the Strand again in 1913. It was named the Novello in 2005 following a major refurbishment. Ivor Novello lived in a flat over the theatre between 1913 and 1951. Novello himself was an actor and author of a number of musicals.

The Times on the other hand, provided a glowing account of the newly opened Waldorf, describing its “fleur de peche marble of a violet colour…rose du Barry panels, cream and gold tiers and boxes, and large ornamental gilt mirrors…handsome bronze chandeliers…wrought-iron balustrade to the central staircase… ” (May 8, 1905, p. 4). The theatre is a Grade II historic designation in London described as:

Portland stone faced…Lively Free Classicism of vaguely Beaux Arts derivation…arcaded windows…containing 4 storeys and an attic

This entry was posted in Beaux Arts, London, Theatres and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Original Architectural Twin Theatres: Waldorf and Aldwych

  1. Pingback: The Original Architectural Twin Theatres: Waldorf and Aldwych — Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles | Ups Downs Family History

  2. peggy says:

    Funny to see such a lovely building with Footloose glowing on the front.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth says:

    I love architectural twins or triplets! And one newspaper focused on the exterior and the other on the interior!

    Liked by 1 person

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