During the eighteenth century, Carlisle’s population more than doubled in size from about 4,000 at mid-century to almost 10,000 at its end. Road improvements improved trade and the local wool industry in particular grew in stature. Carlisle was a major cultural centre for the region with a vibrant social life, where wealthy families would retire to spend the winter. However, the town had not established a dedicated playhouse by the end of the eighteenth century. In about 1792 the Cumbrian stroller Charlotte Lowes recalled that the theatre manager Stordy set up a wooden booth in Carlisle “which stood where the butcher market now is” because a rival had “engaged the Coffee Room” where performances often took place.[1]


[1] Charlotte Deans, The Memoirs of the Life of Mrs Charlotte Deans, from her earliest infancy, comprising the periods when she was Miss Charlotte Lowes, Mrs Johnston, and Mrs Deans; being a Journal of a Seventy Year Pilgrimage with Anecdotes of Many with Whom it has been Her Good and Bad Fortune to Associate ed. Francis Marshall (Kendal: Titus Wilson & Son Ltd, 1984), 29


Image by Unknown, Carlisle, unknown