a curious invitation last tuesday society
a curious invitation robert carlyles house last tuesday society national trust londonLondon Spectaculars the City's Forgotten Theatrical Pleasures
Samuel Foote at the Cafe royal


Peter Berthoud
The City's Forgotten Theatrical Pleasures

Tuesday 3rd May 2016
Doors open at 6:30 pm, Talk commences at 7:00 pm

The Victorian appetite for sensationalism rivalled our own and the lust for spectacle transformed central London into a wonderland of freak shows, circuses, hippodramas, panopticons and pleasure gardens. The industrial age sparked a revolution in theatrical entertainment and the new technology and machinery led to a succession of elaborate West End shows where everything from horse races to sinking ships to earthquakes, train crashes and underwater fights would unveil in front of the audience's eyes. It was sensation after sensation and the better the special effects, the more tickets sold.

Join us as London historian Peter Berthoud pulls back the curtain on the stories of the curious and sometimes bizarre forms of entertainment that were once part of London life. From Georgian rock music to a singing mouse, aquatic dramas to gigantic panoramas and all sorts of street based oddities.

Hear of a man with a most harmonious chin, be titilated by a Smock Race and marvel at the grand exhibits that once thrilled previous visitors to Leicester Square.

Peter Berthoud
Peter Berthoud is one of London’s most knowledgeable walkers and talkers. He is a London obsessive. He spends virtually all his time walking in, writing about or reading about the city. His background is in education and youth work management. His interests range from art to pubs, history, maps, photography & architecture. He is also an award winning, City of Westminster Guide and a member of the City of Westminster Guide Lecturers Association.

Tickets £20 including a glass of prosecco. Please click here to buy.


5th April 2016
Geoffrey Marsh on David Bowie

3rd May 2016
Peter Berthoud on London Spectaculars -
the City's Forgotten Theatrical Pleasures

14th June 2016
Brian Robinson on Laurence Olivier

12th July 2016
Jude Kelly on Joan Littlewood

19th September 2016
Antonia Fraser on Harold Pinter

11th October 2016
Neil McKenna on Oscar Wilde - the Dramatist

8th November 2016
Ian Kelly on Samuel Foote

In 1863, a French wine merchant called Daniel Nicholas Thévenon and his wife arrived in England in a bid to escape the clutches of creditors in Paris. So began a story that grew out of bankruptcy and culminated in the creation of Regent Street’s Café Royal: a truly remarkable and original establishment with what was considered at one point to have the greatest wine cellar in the world and was reputed for its excellent hospitality, dining and entertainment. 

Frequented by writers and artists such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, the conversations, inspirations and discussions at ‘The Café’ were profound. Arthur Conan Doyle, H G Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, W B Yeats, Walter Sickert and James McNeill Whistler were all patrons. Distinguished figures such as Winston Churchill, Augustus John, D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Noël Coward, Jacob Epstein and Graham Greene were also often seen.