Static Scenes at the Globe and the Rose Elizabethan Theaters

Article excerpt

In 1989, we reported the state of affairs at the Rose, and in 1992 at the Globe, the two Elizabethan theatres in London which survive archaeologically. They are the unique remnants of a unique and uniquely valued kind of building, Shakespeare's workplaces. On December 1993, Sam Wanamaker died, whose inspired scheme to re-make a Shakespearean Globe using evidence from these remnants is at last being built. We asked Andrew Gurr, co-author of our two reports, to tell us what is happening at both original theatre sites. His story is of scenes that are, by Shakespeare's standards, most static.

The Rose theatre remains, Park Street

The Rose (Orrell & Gurr 1989) lies covered under the 1989-built office building which straddles the theatre remains; it is protected by a mantle of sand under a concrete capping (Wainwright 1989: 433), the arrangement English Heritage devised to protect the archaeology.

In November 1993 English Heritage had some work done on the site. Hunting Land and Environment replaced and enhanced the monitoring points that maintain the checks on moisture levels, and checked a small section to study the physical condition of the remains. More importantly for those who would like further investigation and conceivably the remains put on display, samples were taken from the clay subsoil for analysis. The information, as a report on the site's condition, should help the Rose Theatre Trust to choose between the alternatives when it is delivered at the end of March. The choices lie between leaving it under its concrete cover as a 'preserved' and scheduled site, or excavating, repairing end putting it on public display.

The Globe theatre remains, Anchor Terrace

The Globe (Blatherwick & Gurr 1992) is buried under the early-19th-century Anchor Terrace, save for that portion extending out into an adjacent car-park.

On the Globe site, nothing is happening. The developers, Hanson Properties Ltd, are still considering their options. No further archaeological investigative work is planned. It seems likely that monitoring of the remains will continue, and the site behind Anchor Terrace will revert for the time being to its former function as a car-park. …