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The Coronet Theatre, 103 - 111 Notting Hill Gate, London

Later - The Coronet Cinema / Gaumont Cinema

The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate in 1904 - From a postcard.

Above - The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate in 1904 - From a postcard.

The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate from a Sketch in 'The Builder' of 1898The Coronet Theatre in Notting Hill Gate, London was built by Walter Wallis to the designs of the well known Theatre architect W.G.R. Sprague at a cost of £25,000 and opened under the management of Edward George Saunders on the 28th of November 1898 with a production of the popular Japanese opera 'The Geisha' by the Morell and Mouillot's company.

Right - The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate from a Sketch in 'The Builder' of 1898

The auditorium, which is still pretty much in its original condition except for its missing box fronts, was built on three levels with two balconies and a capacity of 1,143, which consisted of 93 in the Stalls, 350 in the Pit, 120 in the Dress Circle, 415 in the Gallery, and 40 in the Boxes. The stage was 65 foot wide by 40 foot deep.

The Theatre's Furniture and Decorations were supplied and executed by Messrs Waring and Gallow. The paintings on the Ceiling and Proscenium, and the original 'Act Drop' for the Theatre, based on the famous tapestry entitled "La Barque de Venus" were created by Mr. Arthur J. Black.

The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill - From The Builder, 15th of January 1898.

Above - The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill - From The Builder, 15th of January 1898. The same engraving can be seen in the ERA article shown below.

The Builder reported on the new Coronet Theatre shortly before it opened, along with the above sketch and plan shown below, in their January 5th 1898 edition saying:- 'The new "Coronet" Theatre, Notting Hill Gate, stands upon an almost isolated site, having frontages to the High-street, Johnson-street, and Uxbridge-street. The main elevations are treated in a free Italian Renaissance style. The interior throughout will be luxuriously decorated in Louis XVI. style.

The theatre is designed on the two-tier system, namely, pit, pit stalls, and orchestra stalls on the lowest level; dress circle and balcony forming the first tier, and gallery and amphitheatre comprising the second tier. The balcony, though forming part of the first tier, is slightly raised, giving somewhat the effect a three-tier house, but avoiding the steep steppings so usual in the latter case. An uninterrupted view of the stage will be obtained in every part of the auditorium...

A Plan of the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill - From The Builder, 15th of January 1898.

Above - A Plan of the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill - From The Builder, 15th of January 1898.

...The theatre will be electrically lit throughout and the light arranged so as to add to the general effect of the details of the decorations, complete gas installation is also to be provided, in case of temporary failure of the electric light. Hydrants, of fire-brigade pattern, are provided at different points, and a double asbestos and steel-framed fireproof curtain, which can be worked by one operator, divides the stage from the auditorium, with a powerful water spray to play upon same. The building will be heated on the low-pressure system, including the dressing-rooms, which latter will have hot and cold water supplies, &c. Ventilation has been carefully studied, and powerful exhausts are provided above the auditorium, roofs, &c. The building throughout, except the stage, is entirely of fireproof construction, and the tiers are supported entirely without the aid of columns.

The cost will be about 25,000/. complete, and it is expected the theatre will be ready for opening next October. Mr. W. G. R. Sprague is the architect.'

The above text in quotes was first published in The Builder, 15th January 1898.

An appraisal of the newly built Coronet Theatre by the ERA in their 26th of November 1898 edition.

A Sketch of the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate - From the ERA in their 26th of November 1898 edition - To see more of these Sketches click here.

Above - A Sketch of the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate - From the ERA in their 26th of November 1898 edition - To see more of these Sketches click here. The same engraving can be seen in The Builder article shown above.

Of a truth the new Coronet Theatre well becomes Kensington, the suburb of all others in which art is really fostered: and of the newest addition to the dramatic houses that are springing up in all parts of this great metropolis of ours we might well say with Milton: - "Built like a temple, where pilasters round were set, and Doric pillars overlaid with golden architecture."

Theatrical architecture in the past has too been sacrificed to the utilitarian spirit that affected syndicates and boards of directors; and we have had to put up with storied stucco and pretentious and shabbily ornamented brick fronts. Now however, a change has come over the spirit of the age. We have long left behind the period spoken of by Charles Sprague when he wrote "Lo, where the stage, the poor, degraded stage, holds its warped mirror to a gaping age," and entrepreneurs like Mr E. G. Saunders take little thought of economy where the legacy of the drama is concerned, and it has been his aim to set an example in theatre building which may be worthily followed.

It is more than difficult to give a description that will convey a true idea of the classic outlines and elevation of a theatre of which the whole County of London may well be proud. It is designed in the pure Italian Renaissance style of architecture and is built entirely in white stone. To come, however, to details. The principle facade rears its stately columns in High-street, close to the Metropolitan District station of Notting Hill Gate, and the chief entrance is at the junction of the thoroughfare with Johnson-street. Mr W. G. Sprague, whose reputation for theatre-designing has long since been firmly established by other beautiful buildings, has been particularly happy in his treatment of what may be called the corner of the edifice. It is rounded, and above the entrance doors is a graceful circular arch, of which the spandrils have foliated decoration. This arch carries the eye to a domed tower (accessible from the gallery stairs), surmounted by a cupola on the octagon terminal of which is to be seen a figure of Mercury, which is exactly 80ft, from the ground.

The High-street and Johnson-street elevations are divided into triangular arches, the pediments of which are ornamented with richly carved designs, in which may be seen a coronet. The frieze of the building is decorated with fruit and flowers. The injurious action of the London atmosphere on a stone building is only too well known, and to prevent the erosion so commonly seen on many of our buildings, the whole of the exterior has been covered with two coats of fluet - a French composition that renders the stone impervious to dirt. This preservative becomes very hard, and can practically be washed like the best varnish, so that the proprietors of the Coronet Theatre need never endure the reproach becoming a theatre with a drowsy aspect...

Programme for the Comic Opera 'Chilperic' at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate at the time the Theatre was still under its original management of Mr. E. G. Saunders in March 1903.

Above - A programme for the Comic Opera 'Chilperic' at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate at the time the Theatre was still under its original management of Mr. E. G. Saunders in March 1903.

...One enters the house through walnut half guilded doors into a handsome vestibule with walnut augments. The auditorium is built entirely of concrete and steel, and is absolutely without supporting columns, the cantilever principle being wisely adopted. The first tier includes dress-circle (with many seats) and balcony, and a cosy box each side is a special feature. The graceful curve of this part of the house is ornamented with fibrous plaster ornaments, in which may be distinguished Cupids holding coronets, and with the elctroliery forms a softened light. The form of the ground floor is made pronounced by a rake, and there is no seat of any part from which the stage is not visible. The same is true of the dress-circle and balcony, of which corresponds to the pit and stalls, and the gallery will be a boon in addressing those same supporters of theatres - the gods - being given every consideration and convenience.

(Please note that the above paragraph was very hard to read from the original newsprint so may not be completely accurately transcribed. M.L.)

The scheme of decoration is a harmony of gold and a striking feature is the handsome decorated columns that rise each side of the boxes near the proscenium, of which there are eight, all of them exceedingly convenient and differing in size, their construction being novel and picturesque.

The ground floor is divided into orchestra stalls, pit stalls, and pit, and the second tier is mostly taken up with a spacious gallery that will seat over 800 persons, though there are three rows reserved for amphitheatre patrons. The centre of the ceiling is raised in the form of an ellipse, to which the artistic brush of Mr Arthur J. Black has given a dainty prettiness. He has chosen for his subject the seasons, chastely represented by female figures. Gentle spring, in a pale green vestment, is seen scattering purple and yellow blooms; summer, in a crimson and green robe, is surrounded by a profusion of roses; autumn, in sober garments, is wreathed with golden corn; and winter is clothed in white and grey. Again is the pleasing fancy of the artist exhibited in the filling-in of the tympanium over the richly embellished proscenium. The subject is Mirth. Bacchanals, wreathed with flowers are seen dancing to the piping of Euterpe, who is seated. The act-drop is another clever bit of work by the same artist. It is really an adaptation in oils of an old piece of Farrarese tapestry, and is entitled "La Barque de Venus." The vessel is shaped like an ancient Roman galley such as might have been seen at Actium, its prow being lapped possibly by the wavelets of the Aegean sea. The goddess is seated beneath a bower of Cupids fishing. The collouring of the picture is much enhanced by the figures of flamingoes preening their plumage on the shore...

Programme for 'Sapho' at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate at the time the Theatre was still under its original management of Mr. E. G. Saunders in June 1903.

Above - A programme for 'Sapho' at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate at the time the Theatre was still under its original management of Mr. E. G. Saunders in June 1903.

...The Louis Quinze style of decoration is carried out in the refreshment saloons. Of these the principle is on the dress-circle floor, and here again will be seen Mr Black's artistic handiwork in two circular panels, which form the chief decorative feature of the ceiling. One represents "Dawn robbing the day," a harmony in gold and blue; and the other, in soberer hues, depicts "Evening unrobing the night."

The stage has been designed and constructed by Mr Cawdrey, who has introduced every possible mechanical appliance. It is 40ft deep and 75ft wide. The frontages in Uxbridge-street and High-street are 120ft, and the facade in Johnson-street is 70ft in length. The builder is Mr Walter Wallis, and the decorations and furnishings have been carried out by the well-known firm of Warings, who have supplied the rich gold silk tableau curtains.

The comfort of the artistes has been considered by the fitting and furnishing of the twelve dressing-rooms. With the exception of a gas sun-burner, the front of the house is entirely illuminated by electricity, and the same medium will doubtless be further utilised eventually behind the scenes. The heating of the house comes from low pressure radiators installed by Strode and Co.; and for the electric lighting Messrs Sax Slatter and Co. are responsible. The onerous and important post of clerk of the works has been ably filled by Mr F. Thomas. The managing-director of the enterprise is Mr E. G. Saunders, and the manager of the theatre is Mr Richard Mansell, who has lately been filling a similar position at the Broadway Theatre, New Cross. The orchestral conductor is Mr Victor Hollander, under whose direction a capital band played some highly appreciated selections at the private view...

Programme for 'La Seconde Mme. Tanqueray' at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate at the time the Theatre was still under its original management of Mr. E. G. Saunders in June 1903.

Above - A programme for 'La Seconde Mme. Tanqueray' at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate at the time the Theatre was still under its original management of Mr. E. G. Saunders in June 1903.

...Everyone concerned with the enterprise is entitled to the heartiest congratulations, and compliments were showered on Mr E. G. Saunders and his coadjutors by the large number of guests on Thursday afternoon, when London's latest suburban theatre evoked a chorus of admiration. The theatre opens on Monday with a representation of the popular Japanese opera The Geisha by Messrs Morell and Mouillot's company.

Among the well-known people present we noticed Messrs C. J. Abud, Hayden Coffin, Isaac Cohen, Willie Clarkson, Edward Ledger, Henry Dundas, Edwin Barwick, Austin Fryers, Henry Sutton, J. M. East, W. Bailey, Miss Jenny Lee, Mr and Mrs John Donald, Messrs Rothsay, Fredericks, Pulling, D. S. Davis, James Manders, Harry Monkhouse, Vernon Dowsett, Alfred Calmour.'

The above text was first published in the ERA, 26th of November 1898.

The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate from a postcard posted in 1907 - Courtesy Sandra Chestney

Above - The Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate from a postcard posted in 1907 - Courtesy Sandra Chestney

Programme giving details of a repertory season by Miss Horniman commencing on the 10th of June 1912.Programme giving details of a repertory season by Miss Horniman commencing on the 10th of June 1912.The Coronet Theatre opened on the 28th of November 1898 but despite its famous architect and its position close to central London, it would only operate as a full time Theatre for 18 years before Cinema would begin to take over.

Right - A programme giving details of a repertory season at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate, by Miss Horniman commencing on the 10th of June 1912.

However, back in 1912 a repertory season, which is shown in the programme displayed right, shows what could be done with the Theatre under the right management. This rep season saw the performance of six different plays in six days. This is quite a remarkable repertory for such a small Theatre and must have involved an enormous amount of work on behalf of both the cast and crew of the Theatre. On Matinee days two different plays would be performed meaning that the sets must have been quite simple, however storage must still have been something of a major headache.

By 1923 the Theatre was altered to full time Cinema by the addition of a projection room in the former Dress Circle Bar, and a screen fitted forward of the proscenium arch. The Theatre's capacity was reduced at this time to 1,010.

A film programme for the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate for the month of September 1924.1930 saw Gaumont Provincial Cinematography Theatres taking over the building. They closed the Gallery level and removed the box fronts, covering them over with flat panels, so reducing the capacity of the Theatre to just 515.

Left - A film programme for the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate for the month of September 1924. Films showing that month were 'Straws in the Wind', Call of the Canyon', Daddy's Boy', 'The Fools Awakening', Bluebeard's Eighth Wife', 'Tons of Money', Southern Love', 'Lawful Larceny', and Scaramouche'.

In 1931 Gaumont British closed the Theatre for further refurbishment. An article in 'The Bioscope' of the 19th of August 1931 reports on this saying:- 'Coronet Reverts to G.B. Notting Hill Theatre Reopened. After being shut for several months the Coronet, Notting Hill, reopened on Monday under the control of Gaumont-British. Originally in the hands of P.C.T., the Coronet was taken over some two years ago by a private company styled Hutkenall, Ltd., by whom it was held until recently. While closed the theatre has undergone complete renovation, internally and externally. It has been re-equipped with seating, tabs and draperies, and screen, while the lighting scheme has been completely overhauled. A new projection room has been built at the rear of the balcony, and is equipped with Gaumont machines of the latest type on British Acoustic sound bases. F. G. E. Williams has been appointed manager.' - The Bioscope, August 19th 1931.

Many year later, in 1950, the Theatre was renamed the Gaumont Cinema.

A film programme for the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate for the month of September 1924.

Above - A film programme for the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate for the month of September 1924. Films showing that month were 'Straws in the Wind', Call of the Canyon', Daddy's Boy', 'The Fools Awakening', Bluebeard's Eighth Wife', 'Tons of Money', Southern Love', 'Lawful Larceny', and Scaramouche'.

A Google StreetView Image of the Notting Hill Coronet today - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Notting Hill Coronet today - Click to Interact.

In 1972 the then owners of the Coronet, the Rank Organisation, decided to sell the building for demolition and regeneration of the site with offices and shops but thankfully the local Council, after a sustained campaign by local residents to save the building, made the site a conservation area, so halting the plans.

Rank subsequently refurbished the Theatre instead but in 1977 they sold it to Panton Films, an independent Cinema operator, and the Theatre reverted to its former, and original, name; the Coronet.

In 1993 permission was given for a small cinema to built within the former stage of the Theatre but with the proviso that the stage could be reinstated should the Theatre ever be restored to its former use.

A coloured reissue of the 1904 Coronet Theatre Postcard shown higher up on this page.In 2004 the Theatre, which was by now Grade II Listed, was bought by The Kensington Temple, and although it was feared that the building might be converted into a church, this didn't happen and the owners instead retained its Cinema use, and indeed even improved its facilities.

Right - A coloured reissue of the 1904 Coronet Theatre Postcard shown higher up on this page.

The Coronet closed in the summer of 2014, on the 18th of June, having been sold to The Print Room, a theatre and arts Company, who were previously located in Westbourne Grove. They planed to refurbish the entire building eventually, but temporarily created a 195 seat Studio Theatre for their work in what was originally the Theatre's Dress Circle, which had been extended over the stalls to the proscenium for the creation of a temporary stage. The Print Room had hoped to reopen the Coronet fully in October 2014 but although the small 195 seat Studio Theatre was soon in operation, along with a bar situated in the rear of the former stalls area, plans for the refurbishment of the whole Theatre were still ongoing in December 2018.

You may like to visit the Print Room's own Website for the Theatre here.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

Other Pages that may be of Interest