Lilian Baylis Tree - Roseberry Avenue, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 31.722 W 000° 06.380
30U E 700711 N 5712590
Quick Description: This tree, in memory of Lilian Baylis, is in a park area on the south east side of Roseberry Avenue opposite the Sadler's Wells theatre.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 12/13/2014 10:44:58 AM
Waymark Code: WMN2CJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 1

Long Description:

The tree was planted by Hugh Jenkins MP on 17th May 1974 and this plaque was placed by the Vic-Wells Association on 25th Nuvember 1987 on the 50th anniversary of Lilian Baylis's death.

The Trinity-Laban website tells us about Lilian Baylis:


Lilian Baylis was theatrical producer and manager, managing the London theatres Sadler’s Wells and the Old Vic. An influential figure in London theatre, she also ran an opera company, which became the English National Opera; a theatre company which became the National Theatre; and a ballet company that formed the origins of the Royal Ballet.

Born in London, Baylis’ was educated in music, studying at Trinity College of Music, now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 1902 - however she also taught dance in the early part of her career. Her family ran a concert party and had some success as entertainers, going to South Africa in 1891 when they were offered a touring contract there.

As well as entertainment, her family were also involved with social housing and improving the lives of the community, with her aunt Emma Cons committed to helping those living in London’s slums. As owner of the Old Vic she dedicated her time to putting on shows for the community, an accessible alternative to spending free time in the pub.

On returning from South Africa, where she had been teaching music and dance from 1891-1898, Baylis began managing the theatre alongside her aunt, taking on the running of concerts, film shows, lecture programmes and variety shows. When her aunt died in 1912 she was able to gradually take over management of the theatre, a position she held until her death. Baylis was keen to include opera and Shakespeare in the programme, rather than the popular entertainment her aunt had favoured. She also worked to produce operas in English, in the hope of giving them wide appeal with the public.

In January 1931 Baylis re-opened the once derelict Sadler’s Wells Theatre after beginning the renovation project in 1925. The three companies alternated between the newly opened theatre the Old Vic, but by 1935 drama was based at the Old Vic, and opera and ballet worked from Sadler’s Wells: this is where the history of the modern-day ENO and Royal Ballet, as well as Birmingham Royal Ballet, originates.

Importantly, the appointment of Ninette de Valois strengthened the development of the theatre’s classical ballet, with the career of young dancer Margot Fonteyn being cultivated, and the young choreographer Frederick Ashton appointed to work alongside de Valois. The productions also featured guest appearance from the famous English ballerina Alicia Markova, and Anthon Dolin, a dancer with the Ballet Russes.

Baylis died of a heart attack in 1937, however the foundations on which she built the companies remains. The ENO works at making opera accessible, and still produces many of its operas in the English language, whilst creating the innovative artistic productions Baylis always sought.

Creative Outputs

Baylis programmed Shakespeare's plays at the Old Vic for the first time, starting in 1914 with the Taming of the Shrew.

As well as cultivating the careers of Fonteyn and Ashton, the drama company developed the acting careers of several influential figures including Laurence Olivier, Sybil Thorndike, Alec Guinness, Michael Redgrave and Ralph Richardson.  The company became famous for the production style of artistic director Tyrone Guthrie in the 1930s. His 1937 production of Hamletplayed at Elsinore/Helsingør in Denmark, with Olivier in the title role, and Vivien Leigh as Ophelia.


Baylis was awarded an honorary Master's degree from Oxford University in 1924, only the second woman to be awarded this. In 1929, she was made a Companion of Honour (CH) for service to the nation. In 1934 Birmingham University awarded Baylis an honorary doctorate.

Location of the tree: Park area opposite Sadler's Wells theatre

Type of tree: Indian Horse Chestnut

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