The Globe – Shakespeare’s theatre – Part I

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Shakespeare’s famous theatre!

We have all heard of it, we have walked past it, and maybe it would be interesting to learn about its history. The original Globe theatre building was erected in 1599 to meet the needs of Shakespeare’s playing company. This was a group of actors under the patronage of Lord Chamberlain, who was in charge of entertainment during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It was built on a piece of land, owned by Thomas Brend, inherited by his son, Nicholas Brend, and his grandson, Sir Matthew Brend.

The original building existed only 14 years and was destroyed by a fire in 1613. It was erected again the next year but was closed in 1642. In fact, for political and moral reasons, at the beginning of the First English Civil War all theatres in England were closed under order of Parliament.

Nowadays Shakespeare’s Globe is a modern reconstruction, built about 230m away from its initial location.

But how do we know where the original building was after so many years and changes to town planning? After lengthy research it became clear that the land beneath the theatre extended from modern-day Southwark Bridge Road eastwards to Porter Street and Park Street southwards and to Gatehouse Square.  The precise location remained unknown until 1989 when it was discovered under a car park by workers in the Department of Greater London Archaeology (now Museum of London Archaeology). The excavations uncovered a small part of the foundations and some of the arch support columns. Today a replica of these foundations is displayed on the surface. The rest of the construction remains under existing buildings which renders any further excavations impossible.

The ownership of the Globe Theatre was divided between actors with different shareholding percentages. Among them were John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, Thomas Pope and others. With the passing of time the amount of held shares varied along with the number of participants in the enterprise. Timber from another theatre, called simply The Theatre, built in 1576 in Shoreditch, was used for the new construction. That became possible due to fraud – the landowner was dishonestly deprived of the ownership of the old theatre. Taking advantage of the new owner’s absence, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the actors and friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and hid it in a warehouse. A year later the same timber was used to build the Globe. For that purpose, the material was ferried over the Thames to a plot of marshy gardens. The place was poorly drained and often got flooded. That is why it was necessary to add fortification and additional elements. But in 1599 the new building was completed and was ready to welcome epic plays and great actors.

Dear friends of the English language, expect the next part of the interesting history of one of London’s most famous theatres!

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Author: Iveta Radeva

Training Centre Raya London is a new and fastly developing English Language School specialized in teaching English as a second language. Founded in 2015 we are small enough to provide a personal service, but large enough to have very good facilities and resources for the students to learn English in UK.