Royal Palace Theatre
George Sanger built Sanger’s Amphitheatre on this site in 1883. The architect was the borough surveyor, Albert Latham. It was a circus building but used also from its early years for opera and drama. In 1908 Frank Matcham carried out a major conversion to a theatre, known thereafter as the Royal Palace. Films were shown and in 1929 it was equipped for talking pictures, but it continued to be used for variety and stage plays until about 1950. It was demolished together with Sanger’s Hotel, adjoining, in 1960 and a supermarket was built on the site.
The original building was busily detailed in brick and stone, in three bays with a somewhat disconcerting change of storey and ridge levels between the two outer bays. Above the ornate, arched central entrance a tower rose high above the parapet, crowned by a lively, over-life-size equestrian figure of a rearing horse and rider. The front was guarded by eight draped female figures (said to be bronze) standing on pedestals and holding aloft elaborately ornamented gas lamps. Their number was later reduced (apparently due to prudish reaction) when six were removed to Sanger’s Hall by the Sea in Margate.
So far as can be judged by the single picture of the auditorium so far seen, Matcham’s remodelling was not untypical of his later work, with bulging boxes set in an arched frame. The two balconies were supported on widely spaced iron columns (perhaps an adaptation of the original tiering?).
The striking exterior may have been architecturally somewhat coarse (not entirely inappropriate to its original use) but it is a pity that Ramsgate should have been so indifferent to the fate of its one major theatre. Perhaps the Granville (q.v.) was thought to point the way to the future.
- 1883 - 1950
- 1883 Design/Construction: as amphitheatreAlbert Latham- Architect
- 1883 - 1950 Use:
- 1895 Owner/Management: J D Hunter, lessee
- 1908 Alteration: converted to theatreFrank Matcham- Architect
- 1908 Owner/Management: Melvin, manager
- 1912 Owner/Management: Lord G Sanger
- 1929 Alteration: talkies installedUnknown- Architect
- 1946 Owner/Management: Balexcro Theatres Ltd
- CapacityOriginalDescription‘nearly 2000’
- CapacityLaterDescription1912: 1823
- ListingNot listed