The Irving Room
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“In loving memory of our dear friend Sir Henry Irving”.
The Irving Room was originally a bedroom. After serving as a library for a few years it became a museum dedicated to the famous Victorian tragic actor, Sir Henry Irving, after his death in 1905.
Irving was a frequent visitor to Bournemouth and stayed at the Royal Bath Hotel on his tours of the provinces and in later years in aid of his health.
The Russell-Cotes were great admirers of Sir Henry Irving, and they describe in glowing terms the performances of the actor. Sir Merton described the actor’s performance as Othello in Shakespeare’s play of the same name:
“His altercation with Iago was so realistic and terribly intense that it almost made our hair stand on end: and in the scene where he smothers Desdemona he left such a terrible impression on our minds that we could not possibly sleep during the night.”
The design of the room is reflective of their reverence for Irving, as the painted ceiling rose makes clear. The rest of the ceiling portrays the roles that Sir Henry made so famous.
A large proportion of the collection exhibited in this room was obtained from Christie’s sale of ‘theatrical relics’ in 1905. When it became known that Sir Merton had dedicated a room in memory of Sir Henry Irving more objects were donated from members of the public and the theatrical profession.
Click on the floorplan for the virtual tour to explore the Irving Room further.