Eighteenth-century-style food has been on the menu recently at The Georgian Theatre Royal as the venue has been celebrating its historic roots as part of GeorgeFest16 - Richmond’s Georgian Festival.
Samples of cakes, biscuits, tarts and pies were served up by food historian Jane Sammells on special family tours that have been additional to the main programme of festival guided tours running daily until Bank Holiday Monday.
Also included in the family tours are opportunities to dress up in period costume – complete with Georgian make-up and hairstyling – trying out theatre props and a children’s activity trail.
“We really enjoyed our trip to the Theatre,” said Richmond mother of two, Gill McClean. “We have often taken the girls to see shows but this was a great opportunity to find out more about the Georgian period - not just what people did in their leisure time but also what they wore and even what they ate. The seed cake was particularly good! ”
Running alongside the family tours are regular hourly tours where guides dressed in period costume are showing visitors round the Theatre which, for the festival, has been put back to how it would have been in the Georgian period, complete with its original pay box open off Friars Wynd. Built in 1788 by actor manager Samuel Butler, the Grade I listed building is the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form.
As part of the tour, visitors are able to spend time in the new exhibition area, which was opened last month following a £500,000 redevelopment programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a bequest from former associate director of the Theatre, Paul Iles. The Georgian Theatre Experience includes interactive displays, digital presentations and a range of exhibits relating to the Theatre and the important part it played in Richmond’s illustrious Georgian past.
A key exhibit is the Woodland Scene, acknowledged to be Britain’s oldest surviving scenery set, painted between 1818 and 1836. Thanks to a second grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for £71,000, it has now been restored by specialist conservator Frances Downing.
Tours run on the hour from 10am until 4pm, Monday to Saturday and from 12noon until 3pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. Family tours will run on Friday 26 August at 10.30am and 2.00pm. Tickets for all tours cost £5 for adults and £2 for children.
Outside of the festival period, visitors can take regular tours of the Theatre as part of the Georgian Theatre Experience which is open from mid February until the end of November.