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Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk
020 7401 9919
Nearest Tube/Train Station:
London Bridge tube / BR
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre History

The original Globe was built for the Chamberlain's Men, William Shakespeare's company of players, in Bankside on the South side of the Thames in 1599. Many of Shakespeare's greatest plays were performed in the Globe and for 14 years it was one of the most successful playhouses in London.

In 1613 a stage cannon set fire to the thatched roof of the Globe during a performance of Henry VIII and the theatre burned to the ground. A second Globe was built on the same site. Shakespeare may have acted in the second Globe, but he probably never wrote for it. However, it remained a home for Shakespeare's company until the closure of all theatres by England's Puritan administration in 1642. No longer of use, it was demolished to make room for tenements in 1644.

What did the first Globe look like? Nobody knows for sure because no plans or construction drawings that clearly depict the form of the original theatre have survived. Printed panoramas, such as those by John Norden and Wenceslaus Hollar, give a rather generalised idea of the theatre's exterior; written accounts, usually by visitors from overseas, a building contract and one drawing (of the nearby Swan Theatre) tell us something about the interior. In addition, descriptive passages may be found within the plays themselves, such as the famous Chorus at the opening of Henry V: And shall this cockpit hold within the vasty fields of France Or may we cram within this wooden '...

In fact, the Globe was not truly circular. The archeological excavation of the nearby Rose Theatre in 1989 revealed what most scholars had long suspected: that the Elizabethan playhouses were polygonal buildings. In the same year, a small portion of the Globe itself was excavated, from which two important inferences were drawn: that it was a 20-sided building with a diameter of of 100 feet.

The site of the original Globe lies approximately 200 yards from the reconstructed theatre on Bankside. The foundations were discovered in 1989 under a Grade II listed Georgian terrace on Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1.


Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Nearest Tube/Train Station:
London Bridge tube / BR
click here for a big map

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