Goodman’s Fields Theatre and the wedding of the Princess Royal in 1733-4
Henry Giffard’s new theatre at Goodman’s Fields, situated in the increasingly seedy part of Whitechapel north-east of the Tower of London, entered enthusiastically into the business of celebrating the betrothal and wedding of Anne, the Princess Royal, and William of Nassau, Prince of Orange. Between September 1733 and March 1734 (when the wedding finally took place), the Goodman’s Fields theatre staged two of Henry Carey’s afterpiece masques, The Happy Nuptials and Britannia or the Royal Lovers (“three hundred turned away on the opening night”), with dances by John Thurmond and others from Drury Lane theatre supplementing the Goodman’s Fields troupe. They also staged entr’acte dances with Dutch themes, and Giffard additionally made the most of the one advantage he had over his rivals at Drury Lane and Covent Garden, by putting on open-air displays of fireworks, bonfires, lanterns and triumphal arches. He even arranged a public ball at the theatre, timed to coincide with the royal wedding ball held at St James’s Palace. Such events and performances, to celebrate the first royal wedding in London since 1683, delighted audiences and participants alike at Goodman’s Fields on almost fifty nights of celebration.
Jennifer Thorp has a particular interest in the dance of royal court and public theatre in England and France from the late-seventeenth to the late-eighteenth centuries. Her publications include studies of the status of the dancer in eighteenth-century society, the London careers of Kellom Tomlinson, Francis Nivelon, P. Siris and F. Le Roussau, and the place of dance in Rameau’s Anacreon. Her edition of Le Roussau’s Collection of new ball- and stage dances 1720 was published in 2008, and at present she is preparing for publication a biography and study of the dances of the London dancing-master Mr Isaac, and working on various aspects of the life and work of Anthony L’Abbé. She has co-edited, with Michael Burden, a study of Le Ballet de la Nuit (Pendragon Press, 2010), and The Works of Monsieur Noverre translated from the French, 1783 (Pendragon Press, 2014).