SMNT Trust and trustees

Scope and Content

This file documents the management of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre trust.

Areas covered include:

- Letter from solicitors Bircham & Co. to Kenneth Rae, about legal aspects of the SMNT trust and the Charity Commission (1962).

- Correspondence on the appointment of Kenneth Barnes as trustee of the SMNT after the death of J.P. Blake (1951).

- Correspondence of Kenneth Rae with Kenneth Barnes, about use of SMNT funds to pay for the architect's plans (1953).

- Correspondence documenting procedures associated with such the appointment of Laurence Olivier as a trustee of the SMNT fund, following the death of Kenneth Barnes (late 1957-early 1958).

- Correspondence with Howard Roberts about the agreement between the London County Council and the SMNT Trustees, relating to the site for the National Theatre (1952).

- Arrangements for the signing of cheques and access to safe boxes (1951).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Shakespeare Memorial Fund was started ca. 1904-1905, as suggested in the flyer for the Public Meeting organised by the Provisional Committee in 1905 (to be found in SMNT/1/1/1) and by minutes of meetings of the Provisional Committee in 1904 (to be found in the minute book SMNT/1/6/1). Lord Avebury is credited as the first Treasurer of the fund. Lord Avebury was also one of the first two Trustees on the original Trust Deed, the other being Alfred Lyttelton (this information may be found in the correspondence file SMNT/2/1/18, in the letter from solicitor A.E. Balfour to Israel Gollancz of 03/02/1922).

Following the amalgamation of the Shakespeare Memorial Committee and the National Theatre Movement in 1908, and the birth of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre Committee, Lord Lytton, Lord Avebury and Mr Alfred Lyttelton were invited to act as trustees of the Committee's funds (see the minute book SMNT/1/6/1, meeting of 06/04/1909; see legal material in SMNT/9 for the Declaration of Trust, dating 20/05/1909).

The SMNT Committee retained control over the funds throughout the early 1960s; other files in series SMNT/4 provide additional information on the use of funds and on the legal position of the trustees.

Conditions Governing Access


Related Material

- File SMNT/4/5 includes information about the handing over of the SMNT trust to the South Bank Theatre and Opera House Board and later to the National Theatre Board (1962-1964).

- Series SMNT/9 includes legal documents connected with the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre trust.