Remains of Shakespearean theatre found

Natalie Woolman

The remains of the 16th-century theatre where the premiere of Henry V was held have been found in London.

Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of the Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch. The venue was the base of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men before they moved to the Globe on Bankside and is the “wooden O” described in Henry V.

The theatre was opened in 1577 and disappears from historic records until 1622, although historians believe that it may have been in use until the Civil War. At one stage, it was operated by James Burbage.

The dig at the site of the theatre is being undertaken by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology. In a statement, the museum said “they have discovered what is believed to be one of the best preserved examples of an Elizabethan theatre in the UK”.

The remains have come to light as a result of the land being redeveloped and the site’s owners Plough Yard Developments, alongside property company the Estate Office Shoreditch, now plan to make the remains the centre of the new development. This may mean opening them up to the public.

A spokesman from Plough Yard Developments said: “This is one of the most significant Shakespearian discoveries of recent years. 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.”

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