The Grade II listed, Lancaster Grand Theatre is a relatively new location to Haunted Rooms, though it’s not a new location for paranormal investigators. Since the 1800’s there have been reports of paranormal occurrings here.
Built in 1781, by Charles Edward Whitlock (a dentist), and Joseph Austin (an actor), it was known simply as “The Theatre, Lancaster”, upon its opening in June 1782.
It was one of the first permanent theatres in Britain, and although there have been numerous alterations to the building in its 200+ years existence, the majority of the original stone has survived.
Upon its opening, it played host to plays such as Hamlet and The Belle’s Stratagem, and later, Macbeth, receiving plaudits from the gentry from Lancaster and Lancashire.
By the 1830s the building was less used for professional performances and more for formal lectures, and meetings for the Temperance society.
In 1843 the theatre was sold to Edmund Sharpe, an architect from Cheshire. He made alterations and added an extension and reopened the building in 1849 as a music hall, as well as a museum for the local Literary and Natural History Society.
In 1884 the building was sold again, this time to Henry Wilkinson, who set about reopening the building as the Athenaeum Theatre. In 1897 the theatre was altered again, this time adding a new stage, designed by architect Frank Matcham.
In 1908, a fire badly damaged the theatre and the work Matcham had done. Extensive work was required to restore the interior. Nevertheless, this was all replaced within a year, designed by architect Albert Winstanley, reopening at The Grand Theatre.
The theatre has a 457 seat capacity and is currently owned by the Lancaster Footlights. They started performing at the theatre in the 1920s and purchased the building in 1951 to save it from demolition.
It now plays host to both professional and amateur shows, and plans are in place for several building upgrades, ensuring it’s a part of Lancaster’s entertainment scene for many more years to come.