Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre given Lottery funding boost

Sir Ian McKellen speaking at the British Museum in support of the Rose Theatre Bankside. Photo: Robert Piwko
by -

Plans to resurrect London’s Elizabethan Rose Theatre have been boosted after a Heritage Lottery Fund development grant totalling around £250,000 was awarded to the trust managing the site.

The Rose Revealed project will use the money to draw up designs for excavating the final third of the theatre remains and to plan the delivery of educational programmes and performances.

A detailed application will then be submitted by the Rose Theatre Trust to the heritage funding body to apply for a further grant that would allow the building work to be carried out, which would include creating a new stage above the position of the original one.

The historic site holds the remains of the first Elizabethan theatre on Bankside, where many of Shakespeare’s productions were first staged.

Two thirds of the ruins, which pre-date the Globe theatre by more than a decade, were excavated after its discovery in 1989.

Currently, the area has been preserved in the basement of an office block where a temporary conservation system has been installed.

Harvey Sheldon, chair of the Rose’s trustees, said: “We are delighted with the news – now we can draw up detailed plans for carrying out further archaeological work on the unexplored third of the site – where a feature could be the base of an external stair turret  – plan new site conservation measures, work on a public participation programme and develop the architectural and design schemes needed to provide a sustainable future for the Rose as an historic monument for visitors, and as a performance venue.”

A total of £4 million is needed to complete the whole project. Work is expected to begin in 2014 and be completed by 2016, provided financial contributions from sponsors are secured, added Sheldon.

Last year, the trust had its bid attempting to secure £2.1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project rejected.

Speaking of his support for the project when the announcement was made today at the British Museum, Ian McKellen said: “The latest development cannot but help bring us all together again, so anyone investing or financially supporting the project will know the gratitude will come from a whole range of people.”

“This is not just a small thing that historians are interested in, it is a genuinely popular movement,” he added.