Drury Lane Theatrical Fund Collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of letters and material relating to the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund, in particular correspondence addressed to William Bennett (d.1875), who was secretary of the Fund. There are also letters addressed to his daughter Julia Bennett (later Julia Bennett Barrow). The material includes satin playbills marking the Fund’s anniversary dinners and festivals, a copy of the Parliamentary Act of Corporation issued for the Fund in 1775 and a certificate of appreciation, sealed with the Fund’s Seal of Corporation.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Drury Lane Theatrical Fund is a benevolent fund established in 1766 by David Garrick of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane for the relief and support of retired and disabled performers belonging to the Theatre Royal. Incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1775, it is now the oldest Theatrical fund in existence for the benefit of actors.

William Bennett (d. 1875) was an actor, who served as Secretary to the Fund during the 19th century. His daughter Julia Bennett (later Julia Bennett Barrow) (1824-1903) was also an actor. Born in February 1824, her first stage appearance took place at Southampton in October 1841. Following successful appearances in Manchester and Liverpool, she joined the company of the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1843. She left England for the United States in 1851. Julia Bennett Barrow died in 1903. A short biography can be found in the Theatre & Performance Biographical Files.


The collection is organised into the following series:

  • THM/72/1 Correspondence
  • THM/72/2 Silk playbills
  • THM/72/3 Documents relating to the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Purchased 18 May 1975

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Theatre Royal Drury Lane may be found in several collections including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Other archival and special collections held by the V&A relating to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane are:

Material may also be found via the V&A's National Art Library catalogue. Please ask for details.