The Iguanodon Restaurant – Street Theatre Performance

The Igunaodon Restaurant

Warning: Not a toy!! Our life-size Victorian Iguanodon…

EA_Logo_Col_Screen_RGB      Emerald Ant’s new outdoor show is up and running and attracted large guffawing crowds at Lyme Regis Fossil Festival.  Watch the video trailer here…

Photos and video by James Price

This rollicking ride through history is set in and around our 35 foot Victorian Iguanodon, and explains the origins of geology  told through the eccentric characters of Victorian fossil hunters and early scientists.

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The Artistic Team:

Sarah Butterworth – Artistic Director / lead artist / performer

Richie Smith – Writer and Director of Performance

Ed Jobling – Performer (Bill, Anning, Cuvier, Smith, Owen, Darwin)

Mike Bennet – Performer (Hawkins, Buckland, Mantell)

Georgie Rose Shire – Artist

Mike Pattison – Engineer

Jay Kerry – Maker, technician

Holly Miller – Artist

Shirley Pegna – Music

Many thanks to students at Arts University Bournemouth – Sarah Woollet, Mo Clouting, Heidi-Jo Heard, Eleanor Pollock, Lyddia Green, Amy Healy and Rimante Alisauskaite.

mantell owen anning

Emerald Ant has worked with scientists at the Jurassic Coast Team and our partners the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs to ensure our work is scientifically correct.


Look out for upcoming shows at:

Nature Rocks, West Bay, Dorset – August 11th

Anonymous Festival, Dorchester – August  27th

Yorkshire Fossil Festival – September 16th, 17th and 18th – tbc

Lewes Fossil Festival – 25th September

Sidmouth Science Festival, Devon- 15th October

Emerald Ant is planning a Schools Programme, enabling children to learn about the great underground through our show and creative workshops, also, supporting teachers to use the Jurassic Coast as a learning resource.

Artistic Director Sarah Butterworth will be talking about the research and making processes of Iggy (and Horace the Pliosaur) at the Festival of Geology at UCL on November 5th.

For booking enquiries and more information please contact

Twitter #Iggy1853

Facebook #Iggy1853

We are grateful to our supporters and partners

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Iggy’s ready for action and will make his debut on 30th April

Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…..It’s Iggy’s big debut.

iggy head

We are thrilled to announce the grand opening of the Iguanodon Restaurant next weekend (30th April-1st May) at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival.

There will be 3 outdoor shows a day at the Cobb Car Park, please look out for timings there on the day, but expect them between 11 and 4 pm. Each lasts around 25 minutes.

A big thank you to all our supporters and we look forward to seeing you there.

Making Iggy… shots from the workshop

Iggy making commenced early January. Mike the engineer began with a flatbed trailer, added winches and welded on a massive dino structure with an opening lid …

iggy jan 22

Then the big bad girl team got together in our glamour den grain drier barn, and within 3 weeks we have a proper Iggy emerging…


Sarah and Sarah at the front, Mo and Georgi at the back, and our lovely boss-eyed beast. A fabulous team full of energy and drive despite the cold and downright miserable weather…

More photos –

sculpting Iggysculpting iggy 3

iggy feb 18sculpting iggy's arse

They made it differently in 1852 –

Iggy being made - q-H shed

Thanks to everyone so far –  Mike, Stephen, Mo and Sarah from AUB, Georgi and Waterhouse -Hawkins the original Iggy-builder.

The next big thing’s the head … come back again to see it next week!

Many thanks to our partners and supporters:

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The Iguanodon Restaurant gets Arts Council Funding!!

We are thrilled to announce Arts Council support for the Iguanodon Restaurant – our new street show about the origins of geology.

Iggy model 5_sm

Together with the Arts Council, we have support from the Curry Fund, the Palaeontological Association, Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, the UK Onshore Geophysical Library and the Jurassic Coast Trust.

We’re looking forward to starting to build Iggy in January.


Emerald Ant and The Iguanodon Restaurant

Coming this April to Lyme Regis Fossil Festival…                            
Iguanodon Restaurant - Emerald Ant

It’s 1853, New Year’s Eve in Crystal Palace, and a group of leading professors and palaeontologists are holding a sumptuous banquet in an unusual venue; inside the concrete mould of an Iguanodon. The guests; famous dinosaur hunters and pioneering geologists, William Buckland, Gideon Mantell, Mary Anning and Richard Owen, vie with one another, laying claim to their amazing finds. Discovered across southern England from Lyme Regis to Kent since 1812, dinosaurs are Very Hot News, patronised by the rich, and the subject of lengthy academic discussion. During their banquet of mock turtle soup, woodcock pie and ammonite blancmange, the professors evoke the terrifying monsters their fossils once were. Deep into the night, they debate questions around natural evolution and the bible’s version of the world… How come these creatures no longer exist? How old is the world? What is the stone beneath our feet telling us about our place in the world? Pigs will fly out of pies, and blancmange will explode in the Iguanodon Restaurant! 

The show tells the tale of the birth of geology, and travels at rollicking speed from Lyme Regis in 1812 when Mary Anning discovered her first ichthyosaur, to Cuckfield in Sussex, then Maidstone, where important iguanodon discoveries were made by Gideon Mantell in 1822 and 1834. We finally arrive at Crystal Palace on New Years Eve 1853, where our characters are found dining inside a concrete iguanodon, unusual looking because ‘Iggy’ is based upon the fossil evidence so far uncovered. Built in 1850-54, the Crystal Palace dinosaur sculptures still stand today and are the first depiction of life-size dinosaurs for the general public.

Emerald Ant has worked closely with palaeontologists, geologists and historians from our partner organisation, the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and the Jurassic Coast Team. Key themes  of the show include how scientists use fossils to learn about the prehistoric world, how fossil interpretation has progressed since Victorian times, and the rise of evolutionary theory and the birth of geology. Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ was published 6 years after the iguanodon banquet. We will tell the story behind these famous dinosaurs and raise awareness of their need for restoration.

The Iguanodon Restaurant is supported by the Arts Council of England, The Palaeontological Association (PalAss), Jurassic Coast Trust, Curry Fund, UK Onshore Geophysical Library and The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation. Thanks to everyone for their support. 

Iggy model - Sarah Butterworth

Iggy model 2

Scaled Iggy model by Sarah Butterworth and Mike Pattison

The Tour – Following 4 years’ success with Horace the Travelling Pliosaur Cinema, Emerald Ant will deliver a fun, interactive show for family audiences at festivals and events around the country. We will première at Lyme Regis Fossil Festival in May 2016 and tour Iggy the following 3 years, to science events, family events, history and music festivals.  Audience members will be invited to ‘beard up’ and join us at the banqueting table to discuss the discoveries that broke long-held beliefs in Victorian England and shook the world.

Arts-science Programme for Schools  We will be running an intensive programme for schools in 2016 -18, on the Jurassic Coast, the Sussex and Kent Weald (where iguanodon were found), and in the Crystal Palace area of London. We’ll be working with the Jurassic Coast Team to support schools to teach geology creatively, and to use the Jurassic Coast as a learning resource. At each school we’ll stay for 2 days, performing the show, running creative discussions around important themes, and providing an arts-science fossil workshop, identifying and interpreting local fossils and re-creating the animals they once were. In doing this, we’ll be supporting the development of Jurassica on Portland, the work of the Jurassic Coast Team, and Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs. We’ve already got 8 schools on board. If you work at a school and are interested, please get in touch, details below…

Ig 3   The Iguanodon, as it was understood in 1859, by Samuel Griswold Goodrich 

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The real ‘Iguanodon Banquet’ of 1853, as seen in the Illustrated London News, 7 Jan 1854

And Iggy as he stands today in Crystal Palace…



The Iguanodon Restaurant may also be used at Food Festivals for dining and we are interested in hearing from anyone involved in pop up restaurants and related events.

Please contact Sarah Butterworth, Creative Director, on or 07811 950033 for more information. Emerald Ant is a Community Interest Company dedicated to engaging communities in their local history and heritage through exciting art and giant spectacle. Community Interest Company 9608594.

Many thanks to our partners and supporters:

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The Nutcracker – Christmas at Mottisfont Abbey

Walnut Boat Theatre – Sarah Butterworth

Emerald Ant has just built six installations for Mottisfont Abbey’s Christmas Celebrations.

The work can be seen in the house as part of a magical trail.

Artists: Sarah Butterworth, Mike Pattison, Ian Robins

Special thanks to students at AUB: Sophie Thorneycroft, Ella Challis and Ylana Lovell.

Also Sue Parr, Stephen Fremantle, Sandy James and Julian Wesolowski

A Celebration of Cranes – Lantern Procession

The Great Crane Project (RSPB) teamed up with Somerset Artworks, to celebrate 5 years’ re-introduction of Cranes to the Somerset Levels. They commissioned Sarah Butterworth to lead making workshops in schools and with community groups. On Nov 22nd children, young people, volunteers and artists put on a procession and performance at the Willow and Wetlands Centre, Stoke St Gregory. Giant Crane Puppet - A Celebration of Cranes

Crane puppet made by Sarah and adult volunteers. Photo: Jon England

SAW Crane Celebration - Nisha Haq (2)

Crane headdresses made by children at Stoke St Gregory Primary School.

Photo: Nisha Haq

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