patent theatres



  • The two London theaters, Drury Lane and Covent Garden, that hold Letters Patent, as granted in 1662 by Charles II. The charters, which were intended to revive the English theater after the Puritan Interregnum, gave a monopoly within the City of Westminster to two managers, Thomas Killigrew of Drury Lane and William Davenant of Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre. The Lincoln's Inn charter passed in 1671 to the Dorset Garden Theatre and then in 1732 to the new theater at Covent Garden. A third London theater, the Haymarket,acquired a limited patent to present drama during the summer months in 1760.

    Restrictions on serious acting in London's other theaterswere reaffirmed by the Theatres Act of 1737, but these gradually weakenedand were abolished in 1843. Although the Letters Patent made DruryLane and Covent Garden free of licensing (see licence)by the Lord Chamberlain, they were still answerable to censorshipuntil its abolition in 1968. Both theaters are still leased underthe terms of the original charters. see also Theatre Royal.