The Duchess Theatre was built
The Duchess Theatre was built in 1927 on the site of a WWI Zeppelin bomb raid. The site had been empty for years because of the strange ‘Ancient Lights’ law, which prevented new buildings from blocking the natural light from others. The build’s designer, Ewen Barr, overcame this by digging deep down into the ground. The stage and the Stalls were set way below ground level and the Dress Circle was at the same height as the street. This meant that the top of the building came below the height for the ‘Ancient Lights’ law, and so the Duchess Theatre was born. However, this unusual design has caused the Duchess several problems over the years. Pumps are constantly emptying the basement of ground water to stop it compromising the theatre’s foundations.