William Godwin's Diary


After performances of Pizarro and The Portrait of Cervantes on Monday night, at 4am a watchman alerted Mr Brandon, the box-keeper, that the theatre was on fire. The Times reported: ‘Within less than three hours of its commencement, the whole of the interior of the Theatre was destroyed: nearly the whole of the scenery, wardrobe, musical and dramatic libraries, and properties of all kinds, were a heap of smoking ruins’. The cause of this fire was unknown and there were eleven fatalities. The Beef Steak Club, which held its meetings at the top of the theatre, also lost its stock of old wines. The fire preciptated its move to the Bedford Coffee House.

See The Times, 21 September 1808 and the Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, X (Sep 1808), pp. 271-3.