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The Playhouse


The Playhouse in Sleaford returned to theatre use and reopened in 2000 thanks to the work of its owners, Sleaford Little Theatre.

The Grade II listed Playhouse started life as a theatre, built for local printer and actor Joseph Smedley in 1825. Smedley sold to John Hyde in 1841, and the theatre was then taken over by Jane Hill and William Pidd-Fischer in 1853. Troubled times led to the closure of the theatre - despite a brief attempt to re-open in 1855 - and in 1856 the theatre building was sold to Thomas Parry. He in turn sold to the Church of England, who commissioned Parry and his colleague William Kirk to convert the building into Sleaford's first infant school. Over the years the building has served as store rooms and even a social security benefits office.

In 1993 local amateur society Sleaford Little Theatre were based in the Methodist chapel in a village five miles away. When the old Georgian playhouse building came on to the market they were able to purchase, and in 1994 began the costly process of returning it to theatre use.

The Playhouse officially reopened in October 2000, and SLT have continued to improve on the restoration work ever since, with £33,000 raised to re-seat the auditorium and extend bar facilities in 2010, and the exterior re-pointed in 2011. A final project to replace the windows will complete the refurbishment works.

The Playhouse is a rectangular limestone building on a corner site with its main front on Westgate and Playhouse Yard to its side. Typical of a Georgian playhouse the exterior is simple, with only a small 'oiel de boeuf' beneath the eaves for decoration. Two small steps lead to the main entrance door on the right of the facade.

The auditorium has raked stalls seating that rise up to raked gallery seating and the technical box at the rear. Behind the stage are two dressing rooms, as well as a scene dock, workshop and props store.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1825 - 1855: as theatre
  • 2000 : continuing
Current state
Current use
Theatre (amateur)
54 Westgate (Playhouse Yard), Sleaford, Lincolnshire, NG34 7PP, England
Further details
Other names
  • 1825 Design/Construction:
    Joseph Smedley (Market Rasen)
    - Architect
  • 1825 Owner/Management: Joseph Smedley, proprietor
  • 1825 - 1855 Use: as theatre
  • 1841 - 1853 Owner/Management: John Hyde, proprietor
  • 1853 Owner/Management: William Pidd-Fisher and Jane Hill, owners
  • 1855 Owner/Management: R A Douglas, manager
  • 1856 Owner/Management: Thomas Parry, owner
  • 1857 Alteration: converted to infants school.
    Messrs Kirk & Parry
    - Architect
  • 1857 - 1994 Owner/Management: Church of England, Lincolnshire Diocese, owners
  • 1994 Owner/Management: Sleaford Little Theatre, owners
  • 2000 Design/Construction: refurbished and restored as theatre (architect unknown).
  • 2000 Use: continuing
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
    120 (gallery 50; stalls 70)
    Since 2000
  • Capacity
  • Listing
    theatre also in Conservation Area
Stage type
proscenium (no apron or orchestra pit)
Building dimensions: Frontage 64ft 3in x 28ft
Stage dimensions: w: 7.5m d: 5.5m apron: 600mm no wing space
Proscenium width: 7.5m x 3.3m high
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: none