Under an old warehouse in Shoreditch, secrets of London's 16th Century Theatreland are being painstakingly uncovered. Thousands of artefacts have been uncovered giving us more clues about Elizabethan life.
Three meters under what was an old warehouse in Curtain Road Shoreditch, secrets of London’s 16th century theatre land are painstakingly uncovered.
It’s a hugely exciting project to be part of, and it’s not just that here we are with all that chance to look at one of this really rare buildings which is connected to people such as William Shakespeare, but it’s also what’s gonna happen to the archaeology at the end.
The Curtain Playhouse was one of London’s first theatres. Historians believe this was the first place where Shakespeare performed some of his plays. The rectangular shape of the stage and the mysterious underground tunnel are puzzling archaeologists.
You realise the size and shape of the stage, but these were doorways that would allow access under the stage so, again, you know, how were actors using that space, how does that influence what you can form on the stage itself. It’s asking a whole range of questions that can really kind of change our understanding of the evolution of early English drama.
We’ve got this lovely drinking jug…
Thousands of Elizabethan artefacts have also been found, including the cones everyone carried for tackling headlights.
These are tops from ceramic pots that would’ve been used to collect theatre-goers takings. They were sealed to prevent theft, and taken to a special office to break them open and transfer the money to a strongbox, hence the term box office, still in use today.
16th century audiences were apparently a rowdy bunch.
There would’ve been thousands coming to these places. We know about pawnshops, in fact there was a famous pawnshop at the door of The Curtain in 1613, we know people were eating and drinking, we know that people would throw rotten apples or whatever at the actors if they didn’t like it.
The Curtain Theatre and artefacts will be on show to the public when an office and housing development opens near the sight in 2019.
Yvonne Hall, BBC London News, Shoreditch.