Well Furlong logo
Sam Beckett
Harold Pinter
Tom Stoppard
Globe Playh'se
Book Shop

Amazon.com logo
                  and link to Wellfurlong bookshop

Amazon.co.uk logo and
                  link to Wellfurlong bookshop

Advanced search

Globe Playhouse

Image of the second Globe, built to replace the playhouse burnt down in 1613, as drawn by Wenceslaus Hollar

The Building

My drawing below is a conjectural plan of the Globe. I intend to improve it, adding more detail in the future. The work is based upon books by Andrew Gurr, John Orrell and others including C. Walter Hodges.

Conjectural plan of the original Globe; the section excavated was the stair tower at the 8 o'clock position

The Globe was not circular, but had twenty straight sided bays. We have deduced this from the small section of the foundations excavated in 1989. The playhouse was doughnut shaped. A yard open to the sky surrounded by a thatched gallery ten feet wide. The outer wall of the gallery was around a hundred feet across, and was three storeys high. Two stair towers gave access to the upper storeys. Within the inner wall was a yard where playgoers could stand to watch the play. These members of the audience were called groundlings by Shakespeare, and paid a penny each. The stage of the Globe extended into the yard. The groundlings stood in the yard on three sides of the stage looking up at the actors. For an extra penny a playgoer could sit in one of the three tiers of galleries around the yard. The wealthiest were admitted to lords' rooms closest to the stage, perhaps even in the gallery overlooking the stage. We know they existed, but not where they were situated.

The size of the stage and the entrances at the rear of the stage in the drawing are conjectural. The evidence of stage directions from plays by Shakespeare and many other plays known to have been produced at the Globe lead experts to these conclusions. The centre opening was known as the discovery-space. This would normally have been covered by a curtain, but could be opened up to show a king's throne, or Desdemona's bed, or the body of Polonius. However some experts strongly believe that there was no discovery space; the only drawing that survives of the inside of an Elizabethan playhouse, The Swan, does not show such an area. These writers say that no actor could have held the attention of the audience from such a position on stage. For me the inner stage is an obvious solution to many staging questions, but does not explain others. For instance Cleopatra and her ladies haul up the body of Antony onto a platform. Where was that platform? It must have been a temporary structure. So were there a series of temporary structures built on the Globe stage for different productions? There is considerable evidence that platforms supporting thrones were lowered onto the stage from the area under the stage roof known as the heavens.



Original Globe

Original Globe Playhouse


In 1598 Shakespeare's acting company carried the timbers from the dismantled Theatre across the Thames to Bankside. There they used the timbers as the frame of their new playhouse they called the Globe. In 1613 it burnt down but they again rebuilt it. For more details click on the link.

The building


What we believe the original Globe looked like

The excavation


In 1989 the Museum of London excavated a small section of the Globe's foundations. Here's what they found.

The Rose


The Globe's great rival playhouse, its star Edward Alleyn and owner Philip Henslowe


New Globe

New Globe Playhouse


The American actor Sam Wanamaker worked hard for decades to make the new Globe a reality, but he didn't live to see it built. Here's the story of how the new Shakespeare's Globe came to be built on London's Bankside in the 1990's

Mike's Views, Reviews and Previews


A list of links to details and my reviews of every season since 1997 at Shakespeare's Globe


Globe Main

Globe Old & New top page


Recommended Books

Well Furlong Book Shop


My list of recommended books about the Globe, the Rose and other playhouses of the time may be found in the Globe Playhouse section of the Well Furlong Book Shop . If you so wish, you may go on to buy many of the volumes in our Book Shop directly from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.



Shakespeare's Globe

  The official Shakespeare's Globe site
Home Page