History of our building

The home of Starquest is steeped in history!

Originally named ‘The Palace of Varieties‘ owned by the Barnard family more than a century ago, it was bought and transformed into a 2,000 seater music hall theatre. The first in the world.

It quickly became a favourite place of entertainment for Chatham inhabitants as well as Soldiers and Sailors from the historic naval dockyard at Chatham.

Unfortunately the music hall suffered a fire in 1886 and had to be rebuilt. It was opened as ‘The New Palace of Varieties’.

History of our building Starquest Performers College

The Barnard family were founded as a dynasty of entertainment providers around the country. The performers who appeared in the Palace of Varieties included Harry Houdini and young Charlie Chaplin.

Barnard invented the famous (matinee) twice-nightly system of music hall performances, the first one for the soldiers, who had to return to their barracks by eight o’clock, and the later one for the civilians.

The Barnard family played a very significant role in cultural life in Medway up to the 1930s. It was this family who built the Theatre Royal (opened in 1899) – of which stands on the corner of High Street and Manor Road opposite Starquest Performers College.

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