Sports & Leisure

Drury Lane

Drury Lane

At London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, sociability practices were realized, queried and transformed by actors and audiences. This entry describes the theatre’s physical spaces, then considers modes of sociability within the theatre, from normative theatre-going practices to disruptions such as riots.
'John Bull at the Italian Opera'. Published in London by Thomas Rowlandson, 1811.

English theatre (and transnational sociability)

In the so-called ‘long‘ eighteenth century (starting in 1660), the theatre can be seen as sociable space more than a site for a purely aesthetic experience. The sociability of the theatre however goes far beyond the space of the physical theatre itself.

London theatres (and their audiences)

The analysis of theatrical prologues and epilogues, and of the sociological make-up of audiences and performance spaces, paints a picture of London theatre during the long eighteenth century as a complex ecosystem of sociabilities in which socio-economics and gender dynamics converged, making it a prime space of sociability.
Musical Evenings

Musical evenings (Dr Burney's)

The ‘Sunday evening musical parties hosted by Dr. Burney’ were informal gatherings of musicians as well as writers, actors, and painters, in order to perform in and listen to concerts, given both by amateurs and some of the most brilliant singers and musicians of the day.

Pleasure gardens


Pleasure gardens were a type of eighteenth-century public spaces which offered diverse forms of entertainment for their visitors. Their spatial design coincided with the growth of the public sphere and fostered disparate forms of social interactions on their premises. Related to the growing commodification of culture as expressed in corresponding forms of leisure, they can also be linked to the rising significance of culturally conditioned notions such as taste, fashion or visibility.



MARTINET Marie-Madeleine
Ranelagh was one of London’s pleasure gardens, a typical eighteenth-century locus of sociability, which offered a mixture of social classes – suitably dressed people could attend - while retaining a flattering feeling of exclusiveness.