Remains of Shakespeare’s Pre-Globe Theater Uncovered in London

Jun 7, 2012 3:41pm
ap Shakespeare Museum London Archaeology jt 120607 wblog Remains of Shakespeares Pre Globe Theater Uncovered in London

(Image credit: Museum of London Archaeology/AP Photo)

Archaeologists in London have discovered the remains of William Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre, home to his theater company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, before they moved to the famous Globe Theatre.

The discoveries include the walls that formed the theater’s gallery and the yard within the actual playhouse. Archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) say the discovery is believed to be one of the best preserved examples of Elizabethan theater in the U.K.

The remains were unearthed in Shoreditch, an area in northeastern London, during construction for a residential and commercial development project run by Plough Yard Developments and the Estate Office Shoreditch.

“This is one of the most significant Shakespearian discoveries of recent years,” a spokesman for Plough Yard Developments said in a statement. “Although the Curtain was known to have been in the area, its exact location was a mystery. The quality of the remains found is remarkable and we are looking forward to working with MOLA, local community and Shakespearian experts to develop plans that will give the public access to the theatre remains as part of a new development.”

The Curtain Theatre was opened in 1577 and was London’s second playhouse, according to MOLA. It was the main venue for Shakespeare’s plays between 1597 and 1599. Archaeologists believe that “Romeo and Juliet” was first staged at the Curtain.

Archaeologists from MOLA will continue to excavate the site and the developers hope to make the discovery open to the public.

“This is a fantastic site which gives us unique insight into early Shakespearian theatres,” Chris Thomas, leader of MOLA’s archaeological team, said in a statement. “We are delighted that Plough Yard Developments plan to preserve the remains in place and open them up to the public as there are few similar sites across the UK.”

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