Use your visit time in London to visit another one of it’s iconic buildings which Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plotters would have seen during their short lived time living near the Houses of Parliament in 1605 – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Built in 1599 for Shakespeare’s Lord Chamberlain’s men (Shakespeare’s company of actors) the Globe Theatre in Southwark would have been a relatively new and funky looking building in 1605, a hive of activity and frivolous entertainment, frequented by many 17th Century Londoners for it’s innovative circular stage, comedies, histories and a fair amount of bawdy language! For one penny, you could sit in the cheap seats and watch Shakespeare’s new plays being performed for the first time – in 1605 one pence would also buy you a loaf of bread – what would you choose, bread or entertainment?!! Although the current Globe Theatre is a modern building (the original Globe theatre burned down in 1613), the current Globe was rebuilt in exactly the same shape, design, location as the original, about 200 metres away from the original site, and visitors today can again experience the authentic ambience of watching Shakespeare’s plays with a packed audience in a 17th century theatre. (Please see the Globe Theatre website for current performances, times and prices.) We can imagine that Guy Fawkes and the other plotters would have perhaps strolled on the cobbled streets going past the Globe and either watched or heard about the new play in 1605 which was creating a bit of a stir at the time – a romantic tale of star-crossed lovers which we think you may have heard of – a certain Romeo and Juliet!
As we post, the Globe Theatre has a number of plays and activities which are available to book online beforehand, including Macbeth (“is this a dagger I see before me…”), Shakespeare and Remembrance – we are in November after all – and the Globe also has a number of Guided Tours and Exhibitions for families which you can pre-book, we recommend the Shakespeare Southwark Tour, priced as £13.50 each and described on the Globe website as the following –
“The Shakespeare’s Southwark Tour starts at the Globe Exhibition and delves into the history of Southwark as a theatre district during Shakespeare’s time. Your tour guide will transport you back to Elizabethan London highlighting interesting historical landmarks of the area, including the former locations of the original Globe and Rose theatres.
Tours last approximately 40 minutes, include entry to our Exhibition and are in English. Tickets for this experience do not include entry to the Globe Theatre.
Shakespeare’s Southwark tours are available most afternoons as an alternative to Globe Theatre Tours, when performances prevent access to the Theatre. Tickets are available at the entrance to our Exhibition.”
The Globe Theatre is a great place to visit with your tribe as there is a lot going on there apart from the stage and exhibits. Your teens can learn to use the printing press, a revolutionary invention which helped Shakespeare plays to be produced cheaply and easily when they were first written, you can try on Elizabethan costume (that is itself in time consuming particularly for the girls in your family when you consider how many layers Elizabethan ladies had to wear!), and there are guides to hand about the exhibits and information about the theatre. You can also factor some time in to visit the nearby Tate Modern Museum, also situated on the Bankside of the Thames, near Southwark Bridge, so you could spend a whole day on near the River Thames soaking up the atmosphere of this part of London. We love this part of the city particularly, away from the more corporate City of London the creative and artisan Southwark has a great vibe to it, and there are also numerous coffee shops, bars and restaurants with lots of choice for lunch and dinner – including Nandos, always a teen favourite! We would like to think that Guy Fawkes might have stopped to have conversations with some of Shakespeare’s Lord Chamberlain men, or watched other actors actually treading the boards of the Globe, or perhaps talked to others who may have moved to London – similarly to today’s budding actors – to try and get starring roles in plays in the hope of becoming rich and famous. As Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on..” and his plays have certainly been “playing on” ever since! Nothing is more quintessentially British than Shakespeare, and going on a visit to his “house of plays” is a definite must, even for the less thespian people in your family!
Note: The Globe theatre is an outdoor theatre, so is very much open to the elements! We at travelwiththetribe.blog suggest you consider this before planning your visit.