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THM/17 - Richard Leacroft Collection

Richard Leacroft Collection

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This material is held atV&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17
Dates of Creation1600-2003
Name of CreatorRichard Leacroft and Helen Leacroft
Language of Material English
Physical Description 70 boxes and 23 oversize folders

Scope and Content

The collection comprises primary research material, copies of texts, drawings and watercolours which Mr. Richard Leacroft collected, copied or created during his career as architect, stage designer, lecturer and author of acclaimed books on the history and development of theatre buildings which he wrote, or co-wrote with his wife Mrs. Helen Leacroft.

The collection includes:

  • Architectural drawings
  • Architecural surveys for a number of theatres
  • Isometric 'cut-away' drawings
  • Drawings for illustrations
  • Photographs and literature relating to theatres
  • Periodicals
  • Newspaper cuttings
  • Correspondence
  • Set designs
  • Set models
  • Books proof and gallery of illustrations

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Leacroft V.B, F.R.S.A, A.R.I.B.A, M.S.I.A., Architectural Association Hons. Dipl was an architect, stage designer, author and illustrator. He was born in London on 16 July 1914 and died in Countersthorpe, UK in 1986.

In the1930s he started working as an architect in Leicester, England. In 1936 he studied stage decor under Michel St Denis and George Devine at the London Theatre Studio. He joined Sheffield Repertory Company as stage designer, and later moved to Regency Players at Theatre Royal, Leicester, where he met and married Helen Beal.

In the Second World War, Richard was first posted to Iraq with the Royal Engineers, then to Baghdad in the Army Education Corps. During this period he was encouraged to sketch and develop his painting skills by Frank Archer. He designed stage productions in Baghdad and prepared pamphlets on art, architecture and theatre in Cairo.

Back in Leicester in 1946, Richard resumed stage designing duties at Theatre Royal in Leicester. He also began teaching part-time at the School of Architecture in Leicester (now part of De Montfort University). In 1949, he was appointed full-time lecturer at the School of Architecture. In the same year he published his first major book Civic Theatre Design and his first Puffin book Building a House. Throughout the 1950s to late 1970s Mr and Mrs Leacroft co-wrote a series of children books. They were first published by Puffin then later re-published in hardback by Brockhampton and Young Scott Books.

In 1954, Mr Leacroft won the R.I.B.A. Athens Bursary to study actor-audience relationship in ancient Greek theatres. A few years later, in 1960, he was awarded the Rose Shipman Studentship to study actor-audience relationship in American theatres. Mr. Leacroft published his most known book The Development of the English Playhouse in 1973. Richard was awarded an Honorable Mention in 1973 by the American Theatre Library Association and the George Freedley Award for an outstanding contribution to the literature of the theatre. Over the years this book has become recognised as the most authoritative and informative book in its field particularly noted for its unique isometric ''cut-away'' drawings. These illustrations afford a highly accurate three-dimensional impression of both the inside and the outside of the theatre at the same time. His following two books were co-written with his wife Helen Leacroft in the 1980s. They are Theatre and Playhouse and The Theatre in Leicestershire.

Mr. Leacroft died in 1986 and Mrs Leacroft in 2003.

Arrangement

The original working order of the archive has been maintained where appropriate, including the filing system and arrangement by Mrs. Helen Leacroft

  • THM/17/1 - Primary Research Material
  • THM/17/2 - Correspondence
  • THM/17/3 - Documents related to Mr. and Mrs. Leacroft publications
  • THM/17/4 - Published and unpublished illustrations
  • THM/17/5 - Set designs, costume designs and watercolours
  • THM/17/6 - Exhibition panels and boards
  • THM/17/7 - Provenance of the Collection
  • THM/17/8 - Slides Negatives
  • THM/17/9 - Objects
  • THM/17/10 - General Reference Resource Collection

Conditions Governing Access

This archive is available for consultation in the V&A Department of Theatre & Performance's Reading Room, which is located at Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, Olympia, London, W14 0QX. The Reading Room is open Tuesday to Fridays between 10.15 am and 4.30 pm, access to it is by appointment only. To request an appointment please email tmenquiries@vam.ac.uk or telephone 020 7942 2698.

Access to some of these files may be restricted. These are identified at file level.

Conditions Governing Use

Archive material may not be photocopied. Arrangements can be made to photograph material in the Reading Room using non-flash photography.

Physical Description

Some material in this collection including outsize drawings, illustrations, posters and architecture surveys are stored in outsize boxes or folders. These are identified at file level.

Custodial History

The materials in this collections have been donated in two different batches.

The majority of this collection was donated on 3rd November 1996. This included original drawings and illustrations, text and primary research materials. They were mainly sources for Richard Leacroft's published books on theatre, architecture and buildings. It also included material documenting his work in scenic design. An addition and final donation was made on 24th March 2001. This included large photographs, watercolours and a collection of hardback copies of Mr. and Mrs. Leacroft publications. Prior to this donation, these additional materials were displayed in the Theatre Museum as part of the exhibition 'The Leacroft Legacy', which opened on 1st February 2000.

Prior to the transfer to the museum Mrs. Helen Leacroft arranged and listed all material. The lists created by Mrs. Leacroft can be found in the collection, see THM/17/7 for further details. All efforts were made to keep the original arrangement which reflects Mr. Richard Leacroft sourcing material and his drawing process for his 'cut-away' illustrations.

In 1998 a major preservation project undertaken in partnership with the V&A conservation department and Camberwell College re-housed the large drawings into large purpose-made paper folders.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Archivist's Note

Some of the material in this archive includes architectural drawings described by Mrs. Helen Leacroft. Find a glossary of technical terms below.

  • Isometric drawings are a type of perspective drawing which 'convey three dimentional view of a structure concurrently showing various measured axes' (Lowell, p.46).
  • Isometric reconstructions are isometric reconstructions or 'cut-away' are the representation of buildings in the fashion of isometric drawings.
  • Working drawings are drawings, sketches or diagrams of any object made by projection upon a flat surface, usually a horizontal place. The term is used to refer to drawings or diagrams showing the relative position of the parts of a project, [or] any one floor of a building, projected upon a horizontal plane or the elements of landscape design.' (Lowell, p.47-48)
  • Conjectural Scale reproductionsis the term used by Mrs. Helen Leacroft to describe a type of isometric drawing.
  • Flexible Theatre 'is a generic term for a theatre in which the playing space and audience seating can be configured as desired for each production. Often, the theatre can be configured into the arena, thrust, and end stage forms described above. Environmental, promenade, black box, and studio theatre are other terms for this type of space, suggesting particular features or qualities.' (Theatre Projects Consultants, 2012).

Bibliographic references

Lowell, Waverly & Ryan Nelb, Tawney Architectural Records: managing design and construction records. Society of American Archivists, 2006.

Theatre Project Consulted Types and Forms of Theatres, at http://www.theatreprojects.com/files/pdf/Resources_IdeasInfo_typesandformsoftheatre.pdf. Accessed on 8th August 2012.

Location of Originals

A large number of materials in this collection are reproductions of original articles, texts, architectural surveys and plans. Originals may be found in the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance, British Library, R.I.B.A. archive, local councils and related theatres where original plans and surveys were stored when Mr. Richard Leacroft consulted these for his research.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to the Richard Leacroft Collection may be found in theatre building files and production files. See also special collections including the Frank Matcham Collection and James Winston Collection. The latter has been digitised and it is acessible via The V&A's website on Search the Collections.

Please ask for details.

Bibliography

Bibliography by Helen and Richard Leacroft

Leacroft, R., Building a House, Puffin Picture Book, 1954. Republished by Lutterworth Press, 1972

Leacroft, R., Churches and Cathedrals, Puffin Picture Book, 1957. Republished by Lutterworth Press, 1972

Leacroft, R., Early Architecture in Britain, Methuen Outline, 1960

Leacroft, R., Historic Houses of Great Britain, Puffin Picture Book, 1962

Leacroft, H. and R., The Building of Ancient Egypt, Puffin Picture Book, 1954. Republished by Brockhampton Press and Young Scott Brockhampton Press(now Addison-Wesley). 1963

Leacroft, H. and R., The Building of Ancient Greece, Brockhampton Press and Young Scott Brockhampton Press.(now Addison-Wesley). 1966

Leacroft, H. and R., The Buildings of Ancient Rome, Brockhampton Press and Young Scott Brockhampton Press.(now Addison-Wesley). 1969

Leacroft, H. and R., The Buildings of Ancient Man, Brockhampton Press and Young Scott Brockhampton Press.(now Addison-Wesley). 1973

Leacroft, H. and R., The Buildings of Ancient Mesopotamia, Brockhampton Press and Young Scott Brockhampton Press.(now Addison-Wesley). 1974

Leacroft, H. and R., The Buildings of Byzantium, Brockhampton Press and Young Scott Brockhampton Press.(now Addison-Wesley). 1977

Leacroft, H. and R., The Buildings of Early Islam, Brockhampton Press and Young Scott Brockhampton Press.(now Addison-Wesley). 1976

Leacroft, R., The Development of the English Playhouse, Methuen London and New York, 1973

Leacroft, H. and R., Theatre and Playhouse, Methuen London and New York, 1984

Leacroft, R., Theatre in Leicestershire, Methuen London and New York, 1986

Subjects

Architecture, Domestic -- Great Britain
Historic buildings -- Great Britain
Theater architecture -- History.

Personal Names

Leacroft, Richard
Leacroft, Helen
Beal , Helen
Archer, Frank

Corporate Names

Puffin Books
Brockhampton Press Ltd
Young Scott Books

Cataloguing Info

TitleRichard Leacroft Collection
CreationCreated by Fabiana Barticioti using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2011-04-04

Primary Research Material

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1
Dates of Creation1600-1980s
Name of CreatorRichard and Helen Leacroft
Physical Description 82 Files

Scope and Content

This series contains resource material relating to theatre buildings and performance related subjects. This material seems to have been reproduced or used as reference material by Mr. and Mrs. Leacroft for their publications, papers and exhibitions. It includes:

  • Scketches
  • Architectural surveys for a number of theatres and subjects related to history of performance
  • Photographs
  • Photocopies of articles and texts
  • Periodicals
  • Newspaper cuttings
  • Illustrations
  • Drawings and sketches
  • Notebooks


Teatro Farmese, Parma

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/1
Dates of Creation1930-1980
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photographs of Teatro Farmese, Parma by Richard Leacroft and a number of copies of illustrations and text and also original articles by Edward Carrick including:
  • 'The Theatre of Parma' in Theatre Arts Volume 15, March 1931
  • 'Wooden Theatres of the 17th Century', in Wood, August 1939
  • 'Theatre Machines in Italy, 1400-1800', in a unidentified periodical

Reconstruction of the Globe Theatre

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/2
Dates of Creation1900-1980s
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains drawings on tracing paper and photographs by Richard Leacroft related to the Globe Theatre, London and illustrations entitled An Elizabethan Playhouse, c. 1590. It also includes an article by Orrell, John. 'Seating and capacity' in The Quest of Shakespeare's Globe, Cambridge University Press, 1983


Lincoln's Inn Theatre and Goodman's Field Theatre

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/3
Dates of Creation1900-1980s
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains unfinished drawings on tracing paper, notes, photocopies of text and illustrations all related to Lincoln's Inn and Goodman's Field's Theatres, in London.


Christ Church, Oxford - Great Hall

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/4
Dates of Creation1900-1980s
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photocopies of an article, drawing relating to Christ Church Oxford and an original copy of Official Guidebook to Christ Church Oxford published by Authority of the Governing Body of Christ Church, first published in 1950.


Inigo Jones Theatres and set designs

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/5
Dates of Creation1635-1980s
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains a number of original drawings and sketches by Richard Leacroft, photocopies and photographies of illustrations, text and articles including:

  • Orrell, John. 'Inigo Jones at the Cockpit' in Shakespeare Survey Volume 30
  • 'The Cockpit Reconstruction' New Theatre Magazine, Volume 7 no. 2, Spring 1967
  • 'John Webb and the Court Theatre of Charles II' from a unidentified magazine
  • Keith, William Grant. 'Theatre Project by Inigo Jones', in The Burlington Magazine Volume 31, 1917


Benjamin Dean Wyatt's Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/6
Dates of Creation1800-1980s
Physical Description 2 Folders

Scope and Content

This file comprises two folders. They contain notes, drawings and sketches by Richard Leacroft, photocopies and photographs of text, illustrations and architectural surveys related to Benjamim Dean Wyatt's plans for the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, London rebuilt in 1812. It also contains photocopies and photographs of illustrations in relation to riots, performances and facades for previous theatres built on the same site.


Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London - general material

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/7
Dates of Creation1700-1980
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains:

  • Edifices of London, Drury Lane. Guildhall
  • Plates from Survey of London
  • Photocopy of Brayley's Historical and Descriptive Account of the Theatres of London, Guildhall 1833
  • Photocopy of an illustration depicting scaffolding for painting, 1821


Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London in the 1970s

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/8
Dates of Creation1800-1958
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photographs of plans, elevations and surveys for the Theatre Royal Drury Lane dating between 1800 and 1958.


Theatre Royal Drury Lane - photographs

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/9
Dates of Creation1930-1984
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photographs by Richard Leacroft of the exterior and interior of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane possibly taken in 1950s and 1960s. It also includes a cutting Assembling ENSA's first portable stages on Old Drury's Stage, September 1939 and an illustration of the exterior of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane by Joseph Pike, 1930s.


Edward Middleton Barry's Covent Garden Theatre

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/10
Dates of Creation1880-1889
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photocopies of plans, elevations and surveys of Covent Garden Theatre [now The Royal Opera House] by Edward Middleton Barry's in 1880s.


Edwin Sachs' alterations for Covent Garden Theatre

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/11
Dates of Creation1889-1921
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photocopies of plans, elevations and surveys of Covent Garden Theatre [now the Royal Opera House] made by Edwin Sachs between 1889 and 1901 and photocopies of London County Council (LCC) Survey from 1921.


Robert Smirke's Covent Garden Theatre

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/12
Dates of Creation1800-1860
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photocopies of text, plans, elevations and surveys of Robert Smirke's Covent Garden Theatre [now The Royal Opera House], 1810 and illustrations and plans from other sources dating from early to mid 19th century.


Covent Garden Theatre, London

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/13
Dates of Creation1730-1980
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photocopies of plans, elevations and illustrations relating to the architectural designs by Edward Shepherd (built in 1732), alterations of auditorium by Henry Holland (1792), drawing on tracing paper by Richard Leacroft related to J. I. Richards alterations (1782) two articles relating to Covent Garden Theatre published by The Sketch in 1901.


Covent Garden Theatre - Survey of London proof

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/14
Dates of Creation1968-1969
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains a proof for Survey of London Vol XXXV published in 1969.


Covent Garden Theatre - modern photographs

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/15
Dates of Creation1961-1979
Physical Description 1 Folder

Queen's/ King's Theatre in the Haymarket

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/16
Dates of Creation1710-1980
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains a number of articles, photocopies of plans and illustrations relating to a theatre at Haymarket in London which currently is the site of Her Majesty Theatre.


Unidentified Theatre attributed to William Capon or James Winston

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/17/1/17
Dates of Creation1799-1980
Physical Description 1 Folder

Scope and Content

This file contains photocopies of drawings from the James Winston Collection held by the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance and original drawings on tracing paper by Mr. Richard Leacroft.

Related Material

For more information on the Winston Collection at the V&A, Theatre and Performance Collection, see Search the Collections.