The original Globe Theater was where Shakespeare’s plays revolutionized English language and literature in the early seventeenth century. It was built in 1599 using the materials from The Theater (the first proper playhouse in London) after a disapproving landlord raised the rent. The play was the thing in Elizabethan London. Guests could pay a single penny for a spot in the pit. Theaters became the center of social life. In addition to plays, they hosted gambling, drinking, bear-baiting, and other shady activities.
The Globe burnt down in 1614, but was rebuilt, only to be shuttered permanently by the Puritans and destroyed in 1644. While it is a reconstruction opened in 1997, the modern Globe Theater was built using the same materials and built in the same manner as the original.
Shakespeare’s effect on the English language cannot be overstated. He is considered the father of the modern English language, helping to codify grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The motifs present in his plays continue to influence everything from literature to television. It is hard to believe that Shakespeare was largely forgotten from his death until the late eighteenth century, but since then he has enjoyed an obsessive following.
The best time of year to visit the Globe Theater is during the summer when you can catch a show. There is nothing like experiencing one of Shakespeare’s plays the same way as in the seventeenth century. The tours that are offered are informative, and provide interesting insight into Shakespeare and Elizabethan England. They are also the only way to get inside the theater without seeing a show.
The Globe Theater is located next door to the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge.
Location: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London
Telephone: +44 020 7902 1400
Metro: London Bridge (Jubilee), Mansion House (Circle/District)