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Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Is Given Grade II Listing

Whether you like or loath modern architecture, Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre has been deemed worthy enough to be given grade II listed status.

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre has been given a grade II listing by the Government from advice by English Heritage. Compare this to the next picture…

Culture minister Ed Vaizey, who has responsibility for heritage and architecture policy, has rubber stamped the listing.

The Yvonne Arnaud is one of the first post-war provincial theatres to be funded by public subscription. It is named after the French-born actress who made her home in the Guildford area and who died in 1958.

Taken from the same view view point as the previous picture (from a window high up in the adjacent Town Mill building), this shows the site just as construction of the theatre was beginning. The pair of pictures appear in the book Guildford A Walk Through Time by David Rose and Martin Giles. To order a copy see advertisement elsewhere on this website. Also available from Ben’s Collector’s Records, Waterstone’s, and Guildford Museum.

Opened in 1965, the theatre was designed by John Brownrigg of Guildford architects Scott Brownrigg & Turner. It has been listed in recognition of its design “with a distinctive, sculptural form and exposed concrete structure, interesting plan, and auditorium which is of particular interest”.

The listing follows advice from English Heritage. Mr Vaizey said: “The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is a fine example of post-war design that showcase the architectural talents of the period in buildings designed for private and public use. Clearly it merit the extra layer of protection that listing provides.”

The head of designation at English Heritage, Emily Gee said: “The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is a visually striking building which has been carefully designed, planned and detailed. It is the epitome of an architecturally inventive provincial theatre of the mid-1960s which survives in remarkably intact condition and fully merits listing at grade II.”

The theatre, built with money raised by local theatre goers in the early 1960s and built on land provided by the Borough has been the source of an enormous amount of successful drama, created in Guildford and enjoyed by the people of the town before entertaining audiences in other towns and cities across the UK and indeed regularly in London’s West End.

The Yvonne Arnaud’s Director James Barber said: “The Theatres Trust and English Heritage have both looked carefully at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre over the past 18 months or so and produced a report recommending that it should be given Grade II Listed status. The Department for Culture Media and Sport announced today that this has been approved.

“This decision is a delightful and fitting tribute to the generosity and vision of the people who built the theatre, its talented architect and to all those individuals, companies, trusts and indeed Guildford Borough Council who continue to support it, but – perhaps most importantly – to the 160,000 people who visit Guildford’s Theatre each year.”

More details of the construction of the theatre and its opening night in 1965 can be found in the book Guildford Remember When by David Rose and Bernard Parke – available from local bookshops and on line via Amazon, and so on.

Is the the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre worthy of a grade II listing? If you have an opinion, please leave a comment in the box below.


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One Response to Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Is Given Grade II Listing

  1. Jane Watkins

    October 21, 2012 at 6:56 am

    I live in Melbourne, Australia. Recently I was visiting family in Guildford and I was impressed by the theatre. Lovely place to have lunch during the day and a great venue for plays and concerts in the evening. Guildford is very lucky to have such a venue.