Charles J. Phipps

Charles J. Phipps
Phipps in 1890

Charles John Phipps FSA, known as C.J. Phipps (1835 – 25 May 1897) was an English architect best known for his theatres.



Born in Bath, his first major work was the rebuilding of Theatre Royal, Bath in 1862/3, after the old theatre had been destroyed by fire. Moving to London, he quickly established himself as the leading theatrical architect, building, in rapid succession, the Queen's Theatre (1867), the Gaiety Theatre (1868), the Olympic Theatre (1870) and the Vaudeville Theatre (1871). His Savoy Theatre (1881), a state-of-the-art facility, was the first public building in the world lit entirely by electric light.[1] Other major London theatres included the Strand (1882), the Prince's (1884), the Lyric (1888), the original Shaftesbury Theatre (1888), the Garrick (1889), the Tivoli (1890) and Daly's (1893). In addition the Phipps's London theatres, he was responsible for over forty theatres in the provinces. He also designed Leinster Hall in Dublin (opened in 1886 and closed in 1895), the Star and Garter Hotel at Richmond (demolished in 1919) and the Savoy Turkish Bath.

Phipps was chosen to design the Royal Institute of British Architects’ own premises at 9 Conduit Street. The building is still there, though no longer occupied by the RIBA (now in Portland Place) and is considered by some to reflect the influence of the architect’s native town.

Phipps died on 25 May 1897, aged 62. Though ill with afflictions of heart and kidneys, he continued active in the theatre right to the last. He had felt sufficiently strong to run down to Dover to inspect the building of one of his theatres, took a severe chill, and died three days later. Less than three weeks before his death, his last London theatre, Her Majesty's, had opened in the Haymarket.


Among the theatres Phipps designed, or co-designed, are:

Gallery of architectural work


  1. ^ Burgess, Michael. "Richard D'Oyly Carte", The Savoyard, January 1975, pp. 7–11
  2. ^ "C.J. Phipps, architect of the theatre". The Savoyard 20 (2): 7. September 1981. 
  3. ^ Earl and Sell (2000) pp. 250
  4. ^ Earl and Sell (2000) pp. 133
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 279–82 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3

External links

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