Royal Court Theatre
The building that is now home to the Royal Court Theatre, originally housed the Henrietta Street Iron Foundry, which was tragically gutted by fire.Much of the substantial stone building remained and the shell was bought in 1886 and reconstructed as a theatre which opened its doors in 1893; becoming the home to live music and variety acts. The theatre was, and still is, a source of local pride, boasting a vast auditorium, traditional sprung stage and an orchestra pit, which made it amongst the best facilities in the region.
Over the years the theatre has been the site of a number of cases of unusual occurrences, many of which seem to recur. Members of the public, theatre staff, stage crew and performers have all seen and heard unexplained happenings, with regular reports of ghostly apparitions. The Managing Director can recount episodes of thrown objects, bells being rung, draughts and curiously, a pair of ‘Blue Legs’. Another regular feature that has yet to be explained is the sound of a multitude of shuffling feet, as though a crowd were being seated.
One of the more regular entities claimed to have been seen is a young woman who whose name coincides with an usherette who worked regularly in the auditorium. The most famous spirit however is one who was captured in a photograph taken during a performance by the Second Rossendale Scout Band, which featured in the SUN newspaper in 2008. Not visible at the time, is described as an elderly woman dressed in black, with bunched grey hair and white collar. The image appeared when the photograph was downloaded onto a computer, and so far no-one has been able to explain how this could have occurred using a digital camera. Another regular is a man, and there is also one who is reported to appear in reception. In 2009 a paranormal research group spent an evening at the theatre and during a séance on the stage they believe that they had an encounter with a young lad who had died at the age of 13.
Given the age of the building and its history there will be numerous tales, some involving a tragic death or accident, relating to people linked to it. This makes the Royal Court Theatre a promising hunting ground for those looking for ghosts and mysterious occurrences. Then again, it is an old Victorian building with strange acoustics, echoing chambers and long dark passageways, prone to cold draughts and settling timbers. Whether the experiences of so many people are real or imaginary, the acts of spirits or just natural phenomena, has yet to be decided. In the meantime it continues to draw the curious from all over the country