Haymarket, London
Haymarket, London

Table of Contents

Haymarket, London

Haymarket is a thoroughfare situated within the St. James’s district of the City of Westminster, London. Stretching from the bustling Piccadilly Circus in the north to the elegant Pall Mall in the south, this street is home to notable landmarks such as the Theatre Royal, His Majesty’s Theatre, New Zealand House, a modern cinema complex, and a variety of dining establishments.

Haymarket, London
Haymarket, London

History

Origins

The wide thoroughfare that links Pall Mall with Piccadilly has its roots dating back to the Elizabethan era. Aptly named the Haymarket, it originally served as a bustling market street primarily dedicated to the sale of fodder and various agricultural products. During those times, this area retained a rural character, with the nearest settlement being the village of Charing.

This agricultural trade persisted through the reign of William III, during which hay and straw carts were permitted to traverse the street for commerce without toll charges. However, in 1692, when the street underwent paving improvements, a tax was imposed on these loads, with a rate of 3 pence for hay and 2 pence for straw.

As time progressed, the market’s location shifted in 1830 through the enactment of an Act of Parliament, relocating it to Cumberland Market near Regent’s Park.

In earlier centuries, the Haymarket also held a less savory reputation as one of London’s centers of prostitution. However, this characterization no longer holds true. As reported in “Old and New London” in 1878:

Situated in the heart of the entertainment-rich West End, the Haymarket became a prominent hub for hotels, supper houses, and foreign cafés. It should be noted that many of its taverns attracted the company of less reputable individuals after the theaters closed. These patrons often transformed the night into day, leading to frequent appearances before the sitting magistrates due to drunken disturbances and street altercations. In response, the Legislature intervened and passed an Act of Parliament, mandating the closure of such establishments of refreshment by midnight.

Theatres

Nestled within London’s renowned theatre district, the West End, the Haymarket has long held a prominent role in the world of performing arts, with its theatrical history tracing back to at least the 17th century. The Queen’s Theatre in the Haymarket, an architectural creation by John Vanbrugh, first welcomed audiences in 1705, occupying the very location where His Majesty’s Theatre stands today. Initially intended for dramatic performances, the venue’s acoustics proved better suited for opera. Consequently, from 1710 to 1745, a significant number of operas and several oratorios composed by George Frederick Handel premiered at this theater, leading to its renaming as the King’s Theatre upon the passing of Queen Anne in 1714.

Following the unfortunate destruction of Vanbrugh’s edifice due to a fire in 1790, another King’s Theatre emerged on the same site. Subsequently, yet another fire prompted the opening of Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1897. This structure, now the fourth iteration on the same site, continues to host major musical productions. Its nomenclature has evolved with the reigning monarch’s gender: it adopted the title His Majesty’s Theatre in 1902 following Queen Victoria’s demise, became Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1952 when Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, and, after Elizabeth II’s passing in 2022, reverted to His Majesty’s Theatre. Presently, the Theatre Royal, situated elsewhere along the Haymarket, occupies a building originally designed by John Nash in 1820, succeeding a previous theatre constructed in the 1720s.

Haymarket Today

Haymarket and Regent Street St. James (also known as Lower Regent Street) run in parallel, creating a one-way system where Lower Regent Street accommodates northbound traffic, while Haymarket manages southbound traffic. These two thoroughfares are officially designated as segments of the A4 route that connects London to Avonmouth, near Bristol.

On June 29, 2007, the Metropolitan Police Service successfully neutralized a car bomb that had been left parked on Haymarket as part of the attempted attacks that targeted London in that year.

FAQ

What is the History of the Haymarket in London?

The Haymarket in London is a famous street in the St. James’s area of the City of Westminster, running from Piccadilly Circus to Pall Mall. The history of Haymarket dates back to the 17th century when it was a rural lane known for selling hay and straw. Over the centuries, it transformed into a prominent venue for theatres and entertainment, reflecting the cultural evolution of London.

How Old is Haymarket Theatre?

Haymarket Theatre, also known as the Theatre Royal Haymarket, opened in 1720. It is one of the oldest continuously operating theatres in London, making it over 300 years old.

How Many Seats Are There in Haymarket Theatre London?

Haymarket Theatre London, or the Theatre Royal Haymarket, has a seating capacity of approximately 888 seats. This includes seats across different levels: Stalls, Royal Circle, Upper Circle, and Gallery.

What is the Capacity of the Haymarket?

The capacity of the Theatre Royal Haymarket is about 888 seats. This historic venue provides a cozy yet grand setting for theatrical performances.

What Was the Importance of Haymarket?

Historically, the Haymarket area was significant as a hub of theatrical and cultural activity in London. It not only hosted one of London’s oldest theatres but also became a central spot for the elite and artists, significantly influencing the British theatre scene.

What is Haymarket?

Haymarket is a street in the St. James’s area of the City of Westminster in London. It is known for its historical connection to the London theatre scene and houses the Theatre Royal Haymarket. It has been a significant location for cultural and commercial activities since the 17th century.

When Was the First Theatre Play?

The first recorded theatrical performance is difficult to pinpoint; however, formal theater as known today began in ancient Greece around 600 BC. The earliest form of structured theatre is believed to have originated in Athens, where tragedy plays were performed at religious festivals.

What is the Oldest Known Theatre?

The oldest known theatre is the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, Greece, which dates back to the 6th century BC. It is considered the first theatre ever built and was dedicated to the god Dionysus, the god of wine and the patron of drama.

What is the Oldest Theater in London?

The oldest theater in London is the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, which was originally built in 1663. It has been rebuilt several times since, but the site remains home to the current Theatre Royal, making it the oldest theatre location in continuous use in London.

What is the Best View in the Haymarket Theatre?

The best views in the Theatre Royal Haymarket are typically found in the Royal Circle, particularly in the central sections. These seats offer an unobstructed view of the stage with optimal acoustics.

What Time Does Haymarket Theatre Open?

The Theatre Royal Haymarket generally opens its doors to the public about 45 minutes to an hour before the performance starts. It is advisable to check specific event timings for any variations.

Is There a Dress Code for Haymarket Theatre?

There is no strict dress code for the Theatre Royal Haymarket, but patrons usually opt for smart-casual attire. Some choose to dress more formally for evening performances.

When Was Haymarket Founded?

The area known as Haymarket was established as a market for selling hay and straw in the 16th century. The official roadway called Haymarket was developed in the 17th century as part of the expansion of the West End of London.

Is Haymarket a City?

No, Haymarket is not a city. It is a street and an area within the City of Westminster in central London, known for its historical significance and theatrical connections.

Why is the Haymarket Called the Haymarket?

The name “Haymarket” originates from its original purpose as a marketplace where hay and straw were sold during the 16th and 17th centuries. The market was a key component in the area, which was then on the outskirts of London.

What is the Story of the Haymarket Riot?

The Haymarket Riot, also known as the Haymarket Affair, occurred in Chicago, USA, in 1886. It was a pivotal event in labor history where a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour day turned violent after a bomb was thrown at police. The aftermath significantly affected labor movements and public perceptions of worker’s rights.

How Did the Haymarket Riot Start?

The Haymarket Riot started as a peaceful rally on May 4, 1886, in Chicago. It was part of a larger movement advocating for an eight-hour workday. The violence began when someone threw a bomb at police as they were dispersing the public meeting. The incident led to gunfire, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries among police and civilians.

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