Address: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT


Time: Productions vary, exhibition from 9.00am, tours from 9.30am

Time Information:

Phone: 0207 902 1400 (box office 0207 401 9919)

Entry Price: Plays vary, tours £13.50

900m from Cannon Street

700m from London Bridge

Shakespeare’s Globe is a theatre near the Thames in Southwark that opened in 1997 and is a reconstruction of the 16th century theatre that was used, and partly owned, by William Shakespeare. The driving force behind the reconstruction was American film director Sam Wanamaker.

Before the original Globe, actors performed in places like inn yards and it wasn’t until 1576 that James Burbage built the first playhouse called ‘The Theatre’. Shakespeare joined in 1585 and in 1594 his company ‘The Lord Chamberlain’s Men’ formed.

Burbage died in 1597 and left the theatre to his two sons at which point a legal wrangle remained as to who owned the building – was it the Burbages or their landlord? In anticipation of the theatre being taken from them, the Burbages and a group of friends dismantled the theatre and stored it, rebuilding it over the Thames at Bankside in 1599. The Burbage sons offered half the theatre to investors and Shakespeare was one of four to accept.

The new theatre was called ‘The Globe’. It was 100ft in diameter, 20 sided, made of green oak with lime plaster, had a thatched roof and its capacity was 3,000. The stage was 5ft high with a balcony, trap doors and exit. The first performance was Henry V with Shakespeare holding regular productions before he died in 1616. In 1613, during the play Henry VIII, a cannon misfired, burning the building to the ground in two hours, but it was soon rebuilt.

In 1642 the English Civil War started and plays were banned. In 1644 The Globe was demolished and in 1648 the victorious Parliamentarians pulled down all playhouses. The monarchy was restored in 1660 and theatres were reopened.

In 1997 The Globe reopened a short distance from the original and the first performance again was Henry V. The new theatre was built as a replica of the original using original tools with no power. But necessary modern changes included fire retardant materials, illuminated signage, stage machinery and windows on the Thames side to give protection against the wind.

Due to its history and the fame of Shakespeare across the world, this is one of the greater London landmarks.

The images from the exhibition form only part of the exhibits on show and displays can often change.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.