The earliest information we have been able to collect concerning the theatricals of this place is, that in 1737, an itinerant group of comedians exhibited here. Afterwards Mr. Smith, better known as Canterbury Smith, visited it occasionally. He was succeeded in 1753 by an actor of his company named Peters, who used a room belonging to a public house not far from the present theatre. About 1770, Mrs. Baker erected a "Temple to the muses" on Mount Sion, a short distance from Cumberland House. She occupied this building two seasons only … Mrs. Baker afterwards pulled down the original theatre on Mount Sion, and erected a new one partly with the old materials, on the site of some premises adjoining the Sussex Hotel. But in 1801, finding it much out-of repair, she determined upon pulling it down, and building a new one upon a more extensive scale. This was accordingly done, and the present theatre was opened on the 8th July, 1802. It is a neat building, and, if properly painted and decorated, its appearance would be superior to most theatres of a similar size. … The theatre stands in two counties; the stage being in Sussex and the auditory in Kent.
The management for a few seasons was in the hands of Mr.W. Dowton, and in 1831 they were taken on lease by Mr. Sloman, who married the widow of Mr. H. Dowton. Mr. Sloman's lease having expired in 1838, he resigned the management, and the property is again in the hands of Mr. W. Dowton, son of the veteran actor. The theatre is open for about three or four months in the season; and, in addition to the "London stars," there is generally a very respectable company.