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Patent

Patent

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brush, pen and ink on vellum, with fragment of wax seal attached by woven thread, and a section of an engraved print of the King's head pasted onto the vellum.

  • Credit Line:

    Really Useful Theatres Group

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:USEFUL.1-2000

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Killigrew Patent is one of the two most important documents in the history of the British Theatre and theatre worldwide. It was conferred by King Charles ll in Letters Patent to Thomas Killigrew:‘ his heirs and assigns’ on 25 April 1662, after the Puritan Interregnum, when theatres and dramatic performances had been banned by the Commonwealth Parliament.

After Charles ll returned to London from exile in May 1660 he issued a draft Royal Warrant on the 19thJuly 1660 authorising the royalist supporters Thomas Killigrew and Sir William Davenant the right to give performances with scenery and music, to build theatres and to establish companies of actors in London or Westminster. Killigrew had spent the interregnum in exile with the royal household, and on 25 April 1662 he was granted this definitive patent under the Great Seal. On the 15th January 1663 a similar document was issued to Davenant. By issuing only two patents to two loyal supporters of the monarchy, the King was attempting to guarantee that the theatre would be loyal to the Crown. Killigrew established his troupe The King’s Company, while Davenant founded The Duke’s Company, a clause in each patent providing them the remarkable monopoly that: ‘none other shall from henceforth act, or represent comedies, tragedies, plays or entertainments of the stage within our said cities of London, Westminster and the suburbs thereof.’ These two patents established the joint monopoly of the spoken drama in the London theatre which persisted, in theory, until the Theatres Regulations Act of 1843.

When Killigrew received the patent in 1662 the King’s Company was performing at a theatre in Vere Street, but he was already building a new theatre in Brydges Street, Covent Garden, on the site of the present Theatre Royal Drury Lane. In 1663 Killigrew moved his company to its new home, where this royal patent conferred their rights to perform.

The patent remains the possession of The Really Useful Theatre group, the owners of The Theatre Royal Drury Lane and is on long-term loan to the Theatre & Performance Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Physical description

Manuscript royal patent on vellum with image of King Charles II upper left hand corner.

Materials and Techniques

Brush, pen and ink on vellum, with fragment of wax seal attached by woven thread, and a section of an engraved print of the King's head pasted onto the vellum.

Dimensions

Height: 62.5 cm left side edge, Height: 61.7 cm right side edge, Width: 71 cm top edge, Width: 72.5 cm bottom edge, Height: 80.6 cm left side edge of mount, Height: 80 cm right side edge of mount, Width: 92.5 cm top edge of mount, Width: 92.3 cm bottom edge of mount, Depth: 2.5 cm mount

Descriptive line

Patent for Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Issued in 1662 by Charles II to Thomas Killigrew. Brush, pen and ink on vellum, with fragment of wax seal.

Materials

Vellum

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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