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Top five: Surprising Shakespeare locations in London

30 July 2013

We’re laying claim to Shakespeare being an adopted Cockney and thought we’d put together a little tour of the Bard’s capital.

So, it’s a well known fact that Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, but did you know he spent a substantial part of his life living, writing and acting in London? As such, we’re laying claim to him being an adopted Cockney and thought we’d put together a little tour of the Bard’s capital. So here are five places to go for your ultimate trip around London’s secret locations connected to England’s most celebrated playwright.


SHALT 1 Visit where Shakespeare lived

Shakespearean London Theatre shares that there were two residences during his time in London. In 1604, Shakespeare lodged with a French family called the Mountjoys on Silver Street, Cripplegate. Walk to this spot from Noble Street towards London Wall. The house was located at the corner of Silver Street and Monkswell Street, very close to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which also put on plays.

Shakespeare also owned rooms in Blackfriars East Gatehouse, which he may have stayed in due to the close distance to the Blackfriars Theatre. Located at the junction of Ireland Yard and St. Andrew’s Hill, the Cockpit public house now sites on this site (see image below) and you can get here from Blackfriars Station. Go across Queen Victoria Street into Blackfriars Lane for Playhouse Yard, onto Ireland Yard.

 

SHALT 2

See the memorial to Shakespeare

In Southwark Cathedral you can see a memorial of a reclining Shakespeare by a window in the South Aisle. The multi-coloured window depicts famous characters, like Romeo and Juliet, and was created by Christopher Webb, the stained glass designer in 1954.
The statue by Henry McCarthy is earlier, created in 1912. The statue shows Shakespeare writing, and behind him is the Southwark backdrop of buildings, including Winchester Palace, Globe Theatre and London Bridge with heads on poles. Underneath, an inscription reads: “In memory of William Shakespeare for several years an inhabitant of this parish 1564-1616”

Go to Shakespeare’s local pub

In his book, Shakespeare’s Local, Pete Brown suggests that the ‘Saint George’ in his play King John, relates to the Whitbread The George Inn in Southwark. One character, Philip, describes it as:

Saint George, that swing’d the dragon, and e’er since

Sits on his horse back at mine hostess’ door,

Teach us some fence!

The George Inn

The reference to swinging is a reference to an inn sign with George and the Dragon on it. The age of the play suggests Shakespeare was living in Southwark at this point. The inn is now owned by the National Trust, and located at 77 Borough High Street, Southwark, London SE1 1NH.

 

Stop off for some entertainment

Between Fenchurch Street and Leadenhall Street, sits London’s Lime Street. Notorious in Shakespeare’s time as the place where science thrived, it was also known for its wealthy residents.

According to the King’s College London Shakespeare Centre, this would have included Leadenhall, where wool and materials were weighed. In summer, this activity would have been replaced with pageants and public entertainment, which Shakespeare would have seen. Now Leadenhall Market is a covered shopping and dining area, which you can enjoy; if you look closely, you’ll still see the iron hooks where produce were hung.

 

The Original Globe

Search for the real Globe

If you were asked where the Globe Theatre was, you’d say the circular white building on the South Bank right? What you actually see is the modern reconstructed Globe, following a fire that destroyed the first in 1613. Experts say that the original was 50 yards from Henslowe’s Rose Theatre.

You can see the original site’s foundation line behind Anchor Terrace, on Park Street.

 

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