John Faulkner Collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 3401 FLK
  • Dates of Creation
      1750 - 1970
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 folders and 1 album of photographs, 1 file of correspondence, 3 scrapbooks of press cuttings and 2 boxes of leaflets, notes, reports and miscellaneous photographs

Scope and Content

The John Faulkner Collection comprises of one folder of correspondence containing letters from various organisations and individuals about his research into theatre buildings, three folders and one large album of photographs, magazine cuttings, programmes, lithographs and illustrations of London, regional and Parisian theatres and three scrapbooks of press cuttings about theatrical topics. The collection also contains two boxes of slides and negatives, personal papers, notes, lecture reports, miscellaneous photographs and leaflets from various theatre exhibitions.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rev. John William Harper Faulkner (1903-1982) studied first at Cambridge and then at theological college. He was ordained into the Church of England in 1930, serving as a curate in Nuneaton and being given a parish of his own in Seer Green, South Buckinghamshire on return from his honeymoon in 1934. He was later rector of Lillingstone Dayrell and Vicar of Aston Abbotts until 1956, when he reverted to being a curate at St. Peter, Bedford and, finally, Holy Trinity, Bedford, operating also (to use his own words) “as more or less a free-lance, taking services where needed”. He preached at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square two or three times a year and continued to do so after his retirement in 1968. He died in 1982, aged 78. Reverend Faulkner was a keen theatre goer, and had a particular interest in the interaction between theatre architecture and the theatre arts. Some of his most important work on theatre architecture was carried out between 1942 and 1957 when theatres were being lost at an alarming rate, often leaving no records behind. In the 1940s he set out to catalogue pictorial records of London theatres. His lists, published in Theatre Notebook, were the first of their kind. The National Buildings Record (later the National Monuments Record, now the Historic England Archive) adopted Faulkner’s “urgent” lists as a basis for the systematic photographic recording of a number of theatres.


The collection is arranged as follows:

  • FLK/1 British and Parisian theatre photographs and illustrations
  • FLK/2 Press cuttings of British and International theatre news
  • FLK/3 Leaflets, notes, lecture reports and miscellaneous photographs
  • FLK/4 Correspondence

Access Information

The majority of the collection is open but some material is subject to access restrictions under the Data Protection Act.

Acquisition Information

The Faulkner Collection was purchased in March 2005. The collection was previously held by The Theatres Trust on long term loan.

Other Finding Aids

A spreadsheet listing all the photographs and illustrations with dates and names of theatres depicted is available. Indexes are also available for the scrapbooks and lecture reports.

Alternative Form Available

Some of the photographs and illustrations in FLK/1 in have been digitised.

Archivist's Note

The collection was catalogued by Hannah Wilkinson, Library and Archive Volunteer, November 2015. Parts of the biographical history were written by John Earl in 2000.

Custodial History

Faulkner advertised for pictures and wrote to theatre managements, national collections, publishers, photography firms and private photographers to compile his collection. He also assembled engravings from the Illustrated London News and in at least one case (Drury Lane Theatre Royal) commissioned his own record from a professional photographer. In his later life Faulkner presented his collection to Graham Richards.


No further accruals are expected.


Illustrations of Theatres, John Faulkner, Theatre Notebook Vol. 1, No. 2-6, 1946-1947

The Faulkner Collection: Illustrations of London Theatres, John Earl, Theatre Notebook Vol. 54, No. 1, 2000