Windsor Castle

Queen Victoria’s Journals

Source: Alexandrina Victoria, journal entry for 18 March 1893

Production: Alfred Tennyson, Becket, Windsor Castle, London, 18 March 1893

Text: Dear Louisa’s birthday. God bless & protect her! — Very cold, but fine. — Out with Vicky & Beatrice. — Louisa only arrived very ill & having a heavy cold. — Drove with Ismay S. & Ina McNeill. — Poor Louise had to go to bed, too annoying just today. — Bertie arrived; he & Lorne dined with us 4, & afterwards Tennyson’s play “Thomas A. Becket” was performed in the Waterloo Gallery. Everything was arranged as at the previous performances. The play of Becket, almost a tragedy, lately produced at the Lyceum, is very fine & was written by Tennyson 9 years ago. It has 4 acts with a Prologue, but the whole was somewhat curtailed. The staging is magnificent & Irving had all the scenery, (there were many scenes) painted on purpose. The dresses & every detail were so correct & exact. Irving acted well & with much dignity, but his enunciation is not very distinct, especially when he gets excited. Ellen Terry as “Rosamund” was perfect, so graceful & full of feeling & so young looking in her lovely light dress, — quite wonderfully so, for she is 46.!! A son of hers takes the part of a young Templar in the splendid Parliament scene. The “Bower” in the wood was lovely & so was the other wood scene in which takes place the dreadful meeting between that horrid wicked Queen Eleanor (very well acted by Miss G. Ward) & Rosamund. It is a most terrible scene well. Mr Terris, though he acted well, I thought too noisy & violent as the passionate King Henry IInd. The last scene, when Becket refuses to fly & defies his murderers, is very fine, & his death, & the way he falls down the steps, very striking. The language is very beautiful, & so is the incidental music, expressly composed by Stanford. The performance was over by 12, & we (excepting Vicky, who was much interested) went to the Drawing Room, all the visitors passing by, after which Irving & Ellen came in. I spoke to them & told them how pleased I was. She is very tall, pleasing & ladylike.

Comments: Alexandrina Victoria (1819-1901), later just Victoria, was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 to her death, and additionally titled Empress of India from 1876. She kept up a journal from 1832 until almost the end of her life. The journal records many visits to the theatre, particularly in her younger days. This entry records a private performance of Tennyson‘s Becket at the Waterloo Gallery in Windsor Castle. The play had been running at the Lyceum Theatre, London.

Links: Queen Victoria’s Journals