Sir Percy Florence Shelley bought the property of Boscombe Manor for his mother Mary Shelley - author of the gothic horror novel Frankenstein - shortly before her untimely death in 1851. Sir Percy and his wife, Lady Shelley, loved the area so much they decided to make Boscombe Manor their country home.
Sir Percy, a keen thespian and playwright, soon added the theatre to the west end of the house. Many notable poets and authors regularly visited the manor including Robert Louis Stevenson who had recently moved to Bournemouth and is reported to have written and directed plays with Sir Percy.
Lady Shelley wished to preserve the legacy of Percy Bysshe Shelley and many artifacts were gathered at Boscombe Manor including his journal and heart ..plucked from the funeral pyre.. after he was drowned in a sailing accident in Italy in 1822. The direct cultural links with Percy and Mary Shelley make this a unique building in the area.
From 1911 the manor became a school until sold in 1936 to Bournemouth Council to become a technical college then latterly part of the Arts College. After 6 years dereliction, the main house was renovated by Charles Higgins and is now known as Shelley Manor in honour of its creators.
The theatre in its current condition has been a venue for a variety of arts performances in the last few years including visual arts, music performance, theatre and opera.