The Haunted Drury Lane Theatre Part I

In London, England, there is a ghost believed to haunt the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane , found in the Covent Garden district. The theatre that currently sits in the same location where the ghost tale took place has had three theatres built before it. In this article, you will learn more about the Drury Lane ghost.

Background on the Theatre Royal

During the early years of the English Restoration, Thomas Killigrew constructed what was named the “Theatre Royal in Bridges Street.” When the theatre opened in 1663, King Charles II was the ruler of the time , he was a known as an enthusiast of the theatre. However, the building suffered at the hands of a fire that took place in 1672.  

Following the fire, Killigrew constructed a larger theatre that sat in the same location , using the designs of Christopher Wren. The new theatre was open for business in 1674 and was given the name “Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.” The history of this theatre location has seen its fair share of ups and downs. The Drury Lane Theatre was demolished in 1791 so that an even bigger establishment could be put in its place. This larger theatre opened in 1794. In 1809, the new theatre burned to the ground and was rebuilt into the structure that is mostly seen today. The reopening for the theater took place in 1812.

Tragedy at the Theatre

On May 15, 1800, an assassination attempt was made at the theatre. As King George III sat in the royal box, James Hadfield reportedly fired two shots from his pistol toward the King as he stood in the stage pit.  The shots missed George by just inches and Hadfield was quickly arrested as a suspect in the crime. Unshaken by the attempt on his life, King George gave orders that “the show must go on.”

A Haunted History

The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane has a reputation as being one of the most haunted theatres in England. For starters, it is said that many former actors that have appeared on its stage at some point in time have claimed the theatre as their haunting grounds. A well-known ghost of the theatre is the “Man in Gray,” who appears in full costume with a tri-cornered hat, powdered wig and long gray cloak. The hilt of a sword is often seen on his person. Legend states that the “Man in Gray” is the ghost of the man whose skeletal remains were uncovered in 1848. A knife slash was found in a gray cloak that was still embedded in the rib cage. This particular ghost enjoys appearing during the day when actors are rehearsing. People see the presence of the ghost as a good omen because the plays that run after his ghost has been sighted always do well.