Thanks to a generous £71,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Georgian Theatre Royal's famous Woodland Scene is about to be restored so that it can go on show for visitors.
The scenery, which dates between 1818 and 1836, is acknowledged to be Britain's oldest surviving scenery set. It is made up of eight wooden wing flats over nine feet high, five canvas borders and depicts a forest. It was painted in Hertfordshire in a scene-painting shop set up by former travelling actor George Rivers Higgins. The Woodland Scene is not imaginary as all of the trees depicted in the scene can be identified as specific types of trees.
The work on the Woodland Scene is part of a larger project to redevelop the Theatre's exhibition space, as well as create a new education and learning centre.
Once conserved, the scenery will be digitised and the original displayed in pride of place in the exhibition. New exhibitions will help visitors to understand the importance of the scenery in history of theatre and scene-making to help visitors appreciate the complexities of travelling theatre scenery in its Georgian setting.