PIN The Globe

Shakespeare`s Favourite Theatre

The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre, The Theatre, built in Shoreditch in 1576. The then landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease, but that’s when the fun started. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street`s waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. In the following spring, the material was ferried across the Thames and reconstructed as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark.

The piece of land was poorly drained and liable to flooding at times of particularly high tide; so a wharf or bank of raised earth with timber revetments (fortifications) had to be created to ensure the building was above the flood level. The new theatre was larger than the building it replaced, with the older timbers being reused as part of the new structure; the Globe was now not merely the old Theatre newly set up at Bankside.

It was probably completed by the summer of 1599, possibly in time for the opening production of Henry V and its famous reference to the performance crammed within a wooden O. Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642 and then demolished 2 years later to make way for tenements. “Shakespeare’s Globe”, its modern reconstruction was opened in 1997 and Henry V was once again the opening production.

Who built the first Globe?

The first Globe was built by the company Shakespeare was in: the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Richard Burbage was the company's leading actor. They had played at the Theatre, built by the Burbage family on land leased from a Mr Allen.

In 1597, Allen refused to renew the lease. However the Burbages owned the Theatre, because the lease said they owned anything built on the land. They took it down while Allen was away over Christmas. Their builder stored it in his yard on the north bank of the Thames. The Burbages could not afford to lease a new theatre site. So they offered five of the company including Shakespeare, the chance to
become part-owners of the new theatre for £10 each. With this money, they leased land on the south bank of the RiverThames, near the Rose theatre.

When and where was the Globe built?

The builder who stored the timbers of the Theatre was
Peter Streete. Once the weather was better Streete took
the timber across the Thames, to Southwark, and used
them to build the Globe theatre.
Southwark was a good place for the new theatre. It was
outside the control of the city officials (who were hostile
to theatres). People already went there to be entertained.
It had two theatres (the Rose and the Swan), animal
baiting arenas, taverns and brothels.
Streete and his workmen built a brick base for the
theatre. The walls were made from big timber frames,
filled with smaller slats of wood covered with plaster that
had cow hair in it. Because the owners were struggling
for money, they used the cheapest options in the building
process. For example, the roof of the theatre was
thatched with reeds, not covered with more expensive
tile. In 1599 the theatre opened and was a huge success.


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Lucy is a TripTide stalwart and has been with the company since inception. She is a font of knowledge of all things in our metropolis but she has a special penchant for London's historical past. She says:"London is a multi-layered confection of hi...


Concessions : Under 18s, disabled patrons and school/group bookings

Recent Reviews

"Comedy of Errors"

We were lucky enough to see the comedy store players doing an improv-night at the globe last year. It was amazing stuff. We were stood in the main square but good weather was on our side.

Reviewed by Chris 7 years ago