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Theatre Royal, Drury Lane


The Theatre Royal was established in 1635 and the current Grade 1 listed building dates back to 1812. This major refurbishment aimed to restore the theatre to its former Regency glory.


Overbury were our client and they had taken a brief from RHWL Architects and Lord Lloyd Webber’s heritage adviser Edward Bulmer, following consultation with the Theatres Trust, English Heritage and Westminster City Council’s conservation team. The work was prompted by Lord Lloyd Webber’s discomfort with the decor:

“It was driving me crazy every time I came to the theatre. It was all red wallpaper, red carpets” (source: Evening Standard 15th May 2013)

However, the project had to be completed between shows, allowing a window of only 4 months to carry out the transformation.


The job focussed on restoration and involved the careful forensic removal of 9 layers of paint to reveal the original finish. We then had to replicate the Georgian colour scheme and carry out all the specialist work to the ceilings and pillars, which involved gilding and marbling. The use of these highly skilled techniques is shown in the photo gallery.


The Theatre Royal opened on time and was relaunched with this comment from Lord Lloyd Webber: “It’s by far the most wonderful interior of its day, not just in London but in the country. It’s been very quick, it was worked out like a military campaign.” (source: Evening Standard 15th May 2013). He also commented: “it has been a joy for me to see the craftsmanship that has gone into this restoration” (source: Theatre Royal Drury Lane 1663-2013 re-opening programme, May 2013)

Our client said:

“This project required detailed planning combined with the highest levels of craftsmanship and commitment. H&S delivered to the brief, meeting a very challenging timescale despite taking on a significant additional workload on the way. Our client is delighted with the outcome”

Steve Butcher   Project Director, Overbury

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