Groundlings is a unique Georgian Theatre built in 1784. It is a magical place with secret doors and hidden rooms throughout, and is also said to be haunted by ten friendly ghosts.
It was often frequented by Queen Victoria, and it is said that Charles Dickens was nearly born at the Theatre. The building went on to serve the rich and the poor with the downstairs floor serving as the classroom for impoverished children and the upstairs being used by the high society for meetings, concerts, and theatre production. The school applied a very disciplinarian attitude to education. It was not until 1837 the boys only school was opened to girls and a junior school was formed in 1873. The school had to be closed in 1939 due to the outbreak of WW2 and it is said that a Nazi sympathizer used the roof of the school to shine a torch directing bombers seeking to hit Portsmouth Dockyard. The school finally closed in 1962.
In 2010, Richard Stride bought the burned-out shell of a theatre caused by a stray firework. He then embarked on a major restoration job. After many months of restoration the Groundlings Theatre was finally fully restored. Now a team of actors, locals, and volunteers run a varied programme of events for young and old — including pantos, comedy, new modern productions, and classic Shakespeare. Today Groundlings Theatre is buzzing with life and is a truly unique addition to the city.
Opening times at Groundlings Theatre vary depending on the shows and events taking place. The theatre will be open for walk in trade and enquiries from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily. Closed Sunday.
42 Kent St, Portsmouth PO1 3BS
TEL: 023 9273 7370