Poster advertising the Sadlers Wells Theatre
Printer: Oldfield, W
Medium: Print on paper
This theatre derives its name from the discovery of a natural well in the garden of entrepreneur Richard Sadler's house in 1683. He used the venue to advertise the healing powers of the water, but quickly began to use musicians and dancers to help entertain the crowd.
By the middle of the 1800s, the theatre was an established variety hall. Charles Dickens visited in the 1830s and described it in less than flattering terms: "the theatre was in the condition of being entirely delivered over to as ruffianly an audience as London could shake together. Without, the theatre by night was like the worst of the worst kind of fair in the worst kind of of town. Within, it was a bear garden, resounding with foul language, oaths, catcall shrieks, yells, blasphemy, obscenity - a truly diabolical clamour. Fights took place anywhere, at every period of the performance."
In the theatre 1893 it was taken over by George Belmont and became one of his many music halls in London. It wasn’t until 1931 that the famous Sadlers Wells Ballet Company was formed here.