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).

Jennifer Thorp
Symposium Title: 
Dancing for Anniversaries and Occasions: Chamber, Court, Theatre & Assembly 2015
Author affiliation: 
New College, University of Oxford