Dame Judi Dench said she was thrilled to celebrate her friend and mentor Dame Peggy Ashcroft as she reopened the Ashcroft Playhouse at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls.
The actress unveiled a commemorative photo mosaic of Dame Peggy, made up of hundreds of images of Croydon residents.
The mural of the late actress was created by artist Helen Marshall.
Dame Judi told the crowd she went to art school and “only really ever wanted to be a theatre designer” but that seeing Dame Peggy act made her rethink her career plans.
“In the 50s I was taken to Stratford by my parents where I saw Dame Peggy playing Cleopatra and it completely changed my life,” she said.
“I was going on one road and completely veered off along, hopefully, another.
“Subsequently she became an unbelievably good friend and a mentor to me.”
She added that she was “thrilled” to be unveiling the mural.
Dame Judi visited the Fairfield Halls arts complex in June 1993, when she unveiled a display commemorating Dame Peggy’s life including a painting, photographs and an Evening Standard award.
The playhouse was originally called the Ashcroft Theatre, and had been opened by Dame Peggy in 1962.
The actress died in 1991.