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This is an adaptation of an original 1890s Criterion Theatre programme in my collection. I confess to being potty about it. The original image is the central strip which I copied, pasted and extended to form a background so that it was a classic card-shaped design. The Art Nouveau shapes and swirls are a treat and enable one to breathe in the theatrical atmosphere of late 19th century London.

The Criterion Theatre in September 2007 [Wikipedia]

The Criterion Theatre in September 2007 [Wikipedia]

This small, Grade II* listed theatre in Piccadilly Circus — it has an official capacity of 588 — opened on the site of an old hunting inn, the White Bear, in 1874. It has played host to some notable performances and productions, not least Charles Wyndham as David Garrick (1888),  John Gielgud in Musical Chairs (1932), Terence Rattigan’s French Without Tears (1936-1939), Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1955), which transferred from the Arts Theatre with Peter Woodthorpe, Hugh Burden, Timothy Bateson, and Peter Bull, and Joe Orton’s Loot (1966) with Michael Bates and Kenneth Cranham.

Did you know that one has been able to hear the underground rumble of Piccadilly Line trains since 1906 when the station and line originally opened? It gives productions a certain something! To read more about the Criterion’s history, click here.

I’ve just discovered that John Gielgud’s performance in the above-mentioned Musical Chairs was criticised by Noël Coward. Gielgud wrote to him thus:

To Noël Coward

May 1932, London

Thank you very much for writing as you did. I was very upset at the time, because as you know I had always admired you and your work so very much and also because in a way I have always thought my success in the theatre only began after the Vortex time – this play was my own discovery and I had much to do with the casting and getting it produced, so naturally I was very anxious you of all people should like it. But you are quite right, of course. I act very badly in it sometimes, more especially I think when I know people who matter are in front. And such a small theatre as the Criterion is difficult for me, who am used to the wastes of the Old Vic and His Majesty’s. If I play down, they write and say I’m inaudible and if I act too much, the effect is dire. Now and again one can strike the happy mien and give a good performance. But then, it is no use trying to excuse oneself. I played ever so much better today after reading your letter, and I am really glad when I get honest criticism, though sometimes it’s a bit hard to decide whom to listen to and whom to ignore…
[Daily Telegraph – Gielgud’s Letters, introduced and edited by Richard Mangan, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson]

And here are Sir Charles Wyndham (1837-1919) as Garrick and Miss Mary Moore aka Lady Wyndham (1861-1931) as Ada Ingot in David Garrick at the Criterion Theatre in 1886, which is available as a greeting card.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Swan & Edgar’s Fashionable Furs was one of the first greeting cards I made at Zazzle. I scanned this advertisement from one of my early 20th century editions of the English theatre periodical, Play Pictorial.

Regent_Street,_London_W1_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1098011

Even if you have never heard of Swan & Edgar’s, this grand department store was housed in one of the most recognisable and iconic buildings of Piccadilly Circus, between Piccadilly and Regent Street. It was the establishment in which to be seen for it sold the most sumptuous clothes for the well-heeled. The store had its beginnings in a haberdashery stall in St James Market run by William Edgar early in the 19th century. After meeting George Swan, the two men combined resources:

They first opened a shop together in Ludgate Hill which Mr Swan had been operating, but moved to 20 Piccadilly in 1812. They then moved to 49 Regent Street when their former site was demolished to make way for Piccadilly Circus, which had been the home to the Western Mail coach offices and the Bull & Mouth public house. George Swan died in 1821, however Mr Edgar continued to use the name. By 1848 the premises had expanded to 45-51 and the entire corner of Piccadilly Circus… [Wikipedia]

stores_swanedgar

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


What a high old time I had last night! No, I wasn’t out on the town gallivanting in my wheelchair. I was playing on a website called PhotoFunia where you can upload your photos and place them into all manner of settings. Here, for instance, is my Vins Spiritueux, Nectar of the Gods on a wine bottle.

I read about the site from a post at Gustav and Gayle, where ‘The King of Sweden meets the Queen of Thrift’, and where Gayle is currently creating some wonderful jewellery to sell at her Etsy shop. She had placed some of her recent creations in various settings.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Here is Day at the Exhibition lighting up Piccadilly Circus and Clown in the Mirror gracing the cover of a book!

I shall save the others for future posts.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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