The pomp(eii) of the theatre

A bit more self promotion, but hey if you can’t do it on your own blog where can you? In our last post we asked you to vote for the Bloomberg London site in the Current Archaeology Awards 2014 – well we are going to ask for another little favour. One of our colleagues has been nominated in another category: Book of the Year.

The book is Shakespeare’s London Theatreland by Julian Bowsher (you may have heard his name mentioned in connection with our coins). The book is up against some fascinating reads, including a couple about Roman Britain. 

If you need some convincing there are interesting connections between the Bloomberg London site where so many treasures are being uncovered, and the theatrical world of Shakespeare’s time. By the medieval period, Bucklersbury (the area of our Bloomberg site)  was a thriving mercantile quarter and also included the ‘old Barge’, the home of Sir Thomas More.

The area of the site in the 1560’s

At the time the area was home to druggists and herbalists and Shakespeare refers to this in his play The Merry Wives of Windsor;

“I cannot cog and say that thou art this and that, like many of these lisping hawthorn buds, that come like women in men’s apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury in simple time. “(Falstaff, Merry Wives of Windsor iii, 3).

Leading off Bucklersbury was Budge Row, well known as the centre of the fur and skin trade. In the 17th century, writer Ben Jonson refers to materials from here in Bartholemew Fair;

‘this cap does convince! You’d not have worn it, Win, nor have had it velvet, but a rough country beaver, with a copper band, like the coney-skin woman of Budge-row: sweet Win, let me kiss it!” (1.i).

The personalities of theatre history are also present here; John Brayne who was a grocer in Bucklersbury is credited with building the first purpose built playhouse (the Red Lion in Stepney) in 1567. Confusingly, the brother-in-law of Judith, Shakespeare’s daughter, was Richard Quiney also a grocer at ‘the Red Lion’ in Bucklersbury in the early 17th century.

So there you go, the area was important throughout the ages, and will continue to have a prominent place in history when Bloomberg takes residence in a few years time.

Thank you once again!
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