Introducing the Sheldonian Theatre
Welcome back to the Bodleian Wedding Blog. Today, we are delighted to introduce our neighbours: The Sheldonian Theatre. So often, when couples consider getting married at the Bodleian, they are unaware that the Sheldonian Theatre is also available to hire. In this post, we want to show how the Bodleian team work closely with the Sheldonian and why you should seriously consider booking it as part of your wedding reception.
Tell me more about the Sheldonian Theatre…
When in Oxford, you must go and see the Sheldonian Theatre. From Broad Street, you can gain an excellent view of the Theatre in all its impressive grandeur. The Sheldonian Theatre was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and was built between the years 1664-1669. In fact, the Theatre recently celebrated its 350th birthday! The main purpose of the theatre was to host jubilant celebrations in a magnificent, but also intimate setting.
Stepping into the Sheldonian Theatre, one of the first things you will notice is the painted ceiling. In keeping with Wren’s interior designs, painter, Robert Streater, designed the ceiling to represent a traditional Roman theatre. He achieved this by painting all 32 panels to look like an open sky.
Perhaps one of the most unique things about the theatre is the cupola. This is the small room located on the top of the building with a domed roof. Up there, you can gain spectacular panoramic views of the city. Couples have previously used this space to have photos.
Where is the Sheldonian Theatre?
The Old Bod and the Sheldonian Theatre both share the Clarendon Quad. The Theatre sits bang-opposite the Divinity School. In fact, the Wren door, sits in line with the back of the Sheldonian’s southern entrance/exit route. When setting up for your wedding, suppliers will make their way from Broad Street, they will walk past the Sheldonian, to then unload the equipment via the Wren door.
What is the Sheldonian Theatre used for?
The Sheldonian Theatre is traditionally used to host University ceremonial events such as degree ceremonies, along with musical concerts, performances and talks.
In recent years, we have noticed the demand to hire the Sheldonian as an extra space has soared.
How does the Bodleian work with the Sheldonian?
When considering the Sheldonian theatre for your wedding, there are two questions you should be asking:
1: Am I hiring the theatre for close?
2: Am I hiring the theatre for a drinks or evening reception?
If the former, then this means that you will effectively be hiring the Sheldonian to prevent it being booked for another concert or event.
If the latter, you will effectively be hiring the Sheldonian as an additional or alternative space to host your drinks reception. We will return to these options later on…
The nitty gritty…
The Bodleian team will factor your Sheldonian hire time into your overall itinerary. This will be clearly outlined in your Venue Hire Agreement. To enquire about the Sheldonian Theatre, you must always contact the Bodleian team directly.
On the day, you will feel at ease knowing that all the logistics have been carefully planned and ironed out. These key details will be discussed between you and the Bodleian’s Wedding Coordinator 3 months before the big day. It is also the Coordinators’ job to communicate directly with all your suppliers and make sure they’re on-board with the plans.
We’ve put together two timelines, factoring in the use of the Sheldonian Theatre:
|Timings||Drinks Reception||Evening Reception|
|16:00||Set-up / Suppliers Arrive||Set-up / Suppliers Arrive|
|16:45||Guests arrive (via the DS)||Guests arrive (via the DS)|
|17:00 – 17:30||Ceremony||Ceremony|
|17:45-18:45||Drinks reception in the Sheldonian Theatre||Drinks reception in the Old School’s Quadrangle|
|18:45||Called to dine in Divinity School||Called to dine in Divinity School|
|19:00 -21:00||Wedding Breakfast||Wedding Breakfast|
|21:30 – 00:00||Evening Reception in Divinity School||Evening Reception in the Sheldonian Theatre|
|01:00||Both venues close||Both venues close|
Please note: These are only examples. Timings and dates can change depending on availability of both venues, as well as your ceremony time. i.e. if you booked your ceremony at 2pm, then you would have the option to hire the Sheldonian from 2:30pm.
8 advantages to booking the Sheldonian Theatre:
In case you’re searching for more reasons as to why you should hire the Sheldonian, we’ve made a useful list for you below:
- More space: Perhaps you want the party to take place in the Sheldonian, and use the Divinity School for a calm space for people to relax?
- Earlier music start time – When booking the theatre for close, this means that you will be able to start your music earlier. Concerts often fall on wedding evenings. This means that your amplified evening music cannot officially start until 10pm at the earliest
- It’s a fab wet-weather alternative
- Evening Reception – One of our winter wedding receptions last year used the Theatre and transformed it into the ultimate party zone. They had a built-in bar, dance floor, band, plush furniture – the lot! If your budget allows, there’s a lot that can be achieved with this space
- Since the Sheldonian was originally built for sound, the acoustics sound excellent
- Sole suppliers like Oxford Fine Dining and THAT Event Company are familiar with the space
- It is a great space to use – particularly on Fridays when the library is open for longer hours
- A Wow-factor Wedding: If you’re excited about hosting your very own statement wedding, look no further than the Sheldonian Theatre. From dinner in the Divinity School, to your evening dance in the Sheldonian, it will be a day that all your guests will be raving about in many years to come.
Until next time…
There are so many options when deciding to have your wedding at the Bodleian. We hope that you have found this post insightful and it’s given you plenty of new ideas and things to think about when planning your dream day!
Want to find out more about the Sheldonian Theatre?