“In loving memory of our dear friend Sir Henry Irving”.
This room was originally designed as a bedroom, but was converted into a library before becoming 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 friends and admirers of Sir Henry Irving’s work, describing the actor’s performance as Shakespeare’s Othello as: “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.”
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 Merton had dedicated a room to the memory of Sir Henry Irving more objects were donated by members of the public and the theatrical profession.