The Globe Theatre


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Southwark (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 32314 80373

Reasons for Designation

Built in 1599, the Globe theatre represents one of the earliest purpose-built commercial playhouses in England, and was one of an important cluster of four known Tudor-Jacobean theatres on the south bank of London. Documentary evidence indicates that such playhouses were not common and indeed there is little evidence at present to suggest that any were built outside London. Of this small group of documented sites only the Globe, along with its near neighbour the Rose, have been identified by excavation. The site is a rare and important survival. Of particular note is the site's links with England's premier playright William Shakespeare. Documentary evidence indicates that Shakespeare was a part owner of the site and that many of his major works, including Hamlet, Othello, Henrv VIII, Lear and Macbeth had their first performance here, and indeed were specifically written with this setting in mind. Such works were as popular then as now and the Globe is known to have attracted large audiences. The contemporary importance of the Shakespearean works was such that leading actors such as Richard Burbage were involved in activity at the site, Burbage himself playing the title roles in many of Shakespeare's works. The stature the theatre gained through this Shakespearean connection was such also that other leading dramatists, including Ben Johnson and Thomas Dekker also wrote works specifically for performance there. The theatre enjoyed continued importance after its rebuilding for, while Shakespeare produced no new plays for it, it thrived on new works by Beaumont and Fletcher, Heywood, Middleton and Webster among others. Recent archaeological investigation has confirmed that remains of the theatre survive, these including wall foundations and an area of the theatre floor. Of particular note and importance is the survival of waterlogged deposits, including timber. These are likely to retain considerable evidence of wood- working technology along with other environmental evidence which would not normally survive on a `dry' site. Taken together these various factors indicate the particular importance of the site for Shakespearean scholars and those interested in the development of modern theatre within England. Furthermore the site is of considerable importance for those involved in investigation of the nature of this area of London in the 16th and 17th centuries.


The monument includes the surviving remains of an Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre believed to be the Globe Theatre. The Globe, built in the spring of 1599, was the third such theatre on historic Bankside, following the Rose of 1587 and the Swan of 1596. A lease on the Globe estate and the cost of construction was divided, one half provided by Cuthbert and Richard Burbage, and the other half by the actors John Heminges, William Kempe, Augustine Phillips, Thomas Pope and William Shakespeare. The Globe was constructed by a carpenter, Peter Streete, utilising timbers from the Theatre which had been built in Shoreditch in 1576 by the Burbage family, and dismantled in 1598. The Globe, described in the prologue to Shakespeare's Henry V as "this wooden O", is considered to have been either circular or polygonal in shape. This view is supported by a drawing of London's Bankside area made in the 1630s by the German Wenceslaus Hollar, published in 1647 which shows such a round structure, identified as the Globe. This external shape is a reflection of the internal organisation of the theatre which took the form of a central circular area comprising stage and yard both enclosed by galleries, the latter probably rising in more than one tier. The site is also known to have had a thatched roof and two doors. Spectators would have been accommodated both in the galleries and the central yard. The first Globe caught fire and burned down following the discharge of a cannon during the first performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII on the 29th June 1613. The Globe was rebuilt in 1614 at a cost of 1,400. It was owned again by a similar partnership although the builder of the second Globe is unknown. This second Globe was built on the foundations of the first and it is presumed to have been similar but this one certainly had external stair towers and a stage projecting from the south-west. It was finally pulled down in 1644 on Cromwell's orders. Sufficient documentary evidence survives to confirm that the Globe was located close to the modern Southwark Bridge on the south bank of the Thames. However the exact position of the theatre has only been confirmed by recent partial excavation work in this area. This work has established the survival of archaeological remains, revealing two sections of foundation walls, one of chalk and timber and the other of brick and mortar and an area of the theatre floor. The chalk and timber wall is interpreted as part of the foundations of the first theatre while the brick wall belonged to the second. As well as confirming the location of the theatre these remains also support the argument for polygonal shape. The remains of the theatre are adjacent to and at the level of Park Street, several metres below the level of Southwark Bridge Road. The above ground structures on the site including the listed buildings of Anchor Terrace (as numbered 1-15 adjacent to Southwark Bridge Road) and the modern surfaces and make-up of Southwark Bridge Road itself are excluded from the Scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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