From the world of Shakespeare’s travelling companies to the theatrical glitterati of the 1920’s Lathom was the home of dramatic enterprise for over 400 years.
There is an ongoing debate about whether the northern tours of the ‘Queen’s Men’ (offering the ultimate in Elizabethan drama) included Shakespeare himself. What is clear, from the tour itineraries, is that the company performed at the residences of the Stanleys at Knowsley and New Park and Lord Strange at Lathom - important stops on politically motivated tours. Even a theatre company could help Walsingham keep an eye on families whose loyalty was suspect! (and could that be how Shakespeare made the Lancashire connection that would be important later in his career?)
By the 18th Century, theatre had become an important part of the social fabric of the aristocracy providing evening entertainment both home and away. At the Giacomo Leoni designed Lathom House the drama of the theatre was an important part of weekend and holiday gatherings with one act moral tales, comedies and parodies played out in the Great Hall or the large and sumptuous Salon overlooking the Deer Park. Each of the major local houses developed their own aristocratic ‘repertory company’ made up of family members and regular guests performing in turn at each venue for the entertainment of all!
A scrapbook owned by the sister of the 1st Earl of Lathom, Rose Bootle Wilbraham (1841-1918) contains posters, storyboards, paintings and drawings of theatrical evenings lovingly created by family members over a century before.