Detective Shaw’s London: West End and Savoy Theatre

In London there is an area that occupies a large part of the City of Westminster and the Borough of Camden Town, and which is simply known by the name of West End (photo of dgmiami, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). This geographical reference derives from its position with respect to the City, the ancient Roman London, with which it borders to the east, so that in the past this had made it the western end of the British capital. Now, however, the West End is in fact a substantial part of the centre of the current London metropolis.


This is a very large area, which includes several places described in previous articles in this series: Marylebone, New Scotland Yard (both old and new), and Leicester Square. But throughout the world, the West End is mostly synonymous with Theatreland, that is, the theatre area, which mainly occupies the neighbourhood of Covent Garden. So much so that the terminology “West End theatre” exists to define the practice of professional theatre in London, which, together with Broadway theatre in New York, represents the pinnacle of global Anglophone commercial theatre.

More generally, the West End is the hub of London entertainment, given the high concentration of theatres, but also cinemas, restaurants and pubs, where you eat, drink, and listen to live music.

West End was also the first name of the British duo Pet Show Boys, who later dedicated the famous song “West End Girls” to this area.

Among the many theatres in the West End is the Savoy Theatre (see photo of the interior of the theatre, taken from, located in Savoy Court, an alley which merges into Strand, the latter is one of the most famous streets in London, which starting from Trafalgar Square reaches the edge of the City. You can get there easily on foot from Charing Cross Tube station or Embankment Tube station.

Today’s Savoy Theatre has the peculiarity of being built below street level, and the hotel of the same name is located above it. Like most London theatres, it develops above all in height, with two circles overlooking the stalls (in total it comprises 1158 seats), reducing the distance between spectators and stage to a minimum, and favouring the enjoyment of the show. Having been there in person in 2008, to see the musical “Never Forget”, based on the songs of Take That, I can confirm it!


The site of the Savoy Theatre, however, has a history of reconstruction and renovation that dates back well before 1881, when it first opened. Previously, that same site had had a very different intended use.

In 1246 the Savoy Palace was built there for Peter, the Earl of Richmond, who had been granted the land by King Henry III. Also, the title of Earl of Richmond had been granted by the king to Count Peter of Savoy, uncle of his wife (Eleanor of Provence), and the name Savoy which has survived to the present day derives from him.


Nothing remained of that building in the first Savoy theatre, as it was burned down in 1831. Subsequently, a hospital was built on its ruins (1505) until the latter was also destroyed by fire. Only in 1881 would it become a theatre.

Since then its interior was completely rebuilt in 1929, while its subsequent renovation, begun in 1990, suffered a setback due to yet another fire. The last reopening dates back to 1993, in its current form, with which they tried as much as possible to reproduce its original structure.


The performances nowadays are always musicals, some repeated for several years in a row. You can purchase tickets directly from the official website of the theatre, but through some online agencies you can often find discounted prices, which allow you to attend beautiful shows with a limited expense.


The West End often appears in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, however it only has a crucial role in the last book of the series, “Beyond the Limit”, in which we see DI Miriam Leroux and Sergeant Mills driving on the Strand, and we find another important character in Covent Garden Market (but I will talk about this in the next article in the series), but above all this area is literally the scene of a crime, which is committed precisely in the Savoy packed with spectators.

In reality, the crime would take place on a day (on 22 May 2017) in which there was no performance, but this too is nothing more than one of my many artistic licences.

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