This fabulous building began life as a Salvation Army Citadel, with the first stones, still visible on the front exterior of the building, being laid on 3rd August 1888. In a strange quirk of fate, its designers and engineers had also worked on many Victorian Music Halls, leaving it perfectly proportioned for its future theatrical life.
The Salvation Army left the Citadel in 1962 and for some years the building was used as a furniture warehouse. In 1968 two Royal Shakespeare Company actors, Tamara and John Malcolm, discovered the building was up for sale and realised it’s potential. An anonymous benefactor provided them with a loan and they submitted an application for planning permission to convert it into a theatre. In September 1973, fundraising for the new theatre began in earnest, and the year was crowned with The Theatre’s first Christmas Show, Beauty and the Beast, staged in the town hall. The Theatre began as a true community resource, with residents of Chipping Norton each asked to contribute £1 towards the conversion.