Shakespeare’s Globe - History and Facts | History Hit

Shakespeare’s Globe

London, England, United Kingdom

Image Credit: Victor Moussa / Shutterstock

About Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe is a 20th century reincarnation of the original 16th century Globe Theatre which was built by Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599. It is located in Southwark, on the banks of the River Thames.

History of Shakespeare’s Globe

The original theatre was built here in 1599 with funding from the Lord Chamberlain’s Men: the Burbage brothers owned 25% each, with the remaining 4 men owning 12.5% each. The timber came from an earlier theatre across the river in Shoreditch, which was dismantled in 1598. It’s thought it was completed by summer 1599 for a performance of Henry V, or potentially by September for a performance on Julius Caesar.

In June 1613, the original Globe was razed to the ground by a fire started by a misfiring cannon during a performance of Henry VIII. Made of wooden beams and a thatched roof, it caught light like a tinder box in the dry weather. It was rebuilt, but closed by Puritans in 1642 and eventually pulled down in 1644/5.

American actor and director Sam Wanamaker spearheaded a campaign in the 1990s to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe based on plans from 1599 and 1614, keeping as true as possible to the original building. Doe to its open air nature, plays are staged from May to early October, and the stage and seating closely replicates how it would have been for audiences in the 16th and 17th century. The theatre still honours the tradition of ‘groundling’ tickets – cheap tickets in the pit which require the audience to stand for the duration of the play.

Shakespeare’s Globe today

Shakespeare’s Globe is a wonderful theatre: grab a £5 groundling ticket if you can face a marathon 3 hours standing to watch a play (you’ll be asked to stand up if you cave and sit on the floor – you’ve been warned!) during the summer season, enjoy a drink at the bar on a summer’s evening or go on a tour of the theatre in the winter months – it’s fascinating and a great glimpse behind the scenes you would never otherwise get.

Getting to Shakespeare’s Globe

The Globe is on the Southbank in Southwark – London Bridge and Southwark stations are both about a 10 minute walk away, bus 344 (Clapham Junction – Liverpool Street) stops on Southwark Bridge and Bankside Ferry Terminal is right next to the theatre. Stroll along the river from Waterloo if you have time and soak up the sights and sounds of the culturally dynamic Southbank.

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