Category Archives: 17th Century

London – The First Theatres – 1613 – The Globe

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

London – The First Theatres – 1613 – The Globe

The Globe Theatre was the scene of Shakespeare’s exertions as an actor, and here many of his best pieces were first performed. The Globe was burnt down on St. Peter’s day, the 29th of June, 1613. The fire originated, according to Winwood, with the mimic discharges in Shakespeare’s play of Henry VIII, when the rushes of the roof caught fire; and he adds, that the attention of the audience was so much engaged with the actors, that they did not notice it. Fortunately, however, there were few or no accidents, a circumstance alluded to in an old ballad of the time, of which the following is the first stanza.

“Now sit thee down, Melpomene,
Wrapt in a sea coal robe;
And tell the doleful tragedie
That late was play’d at Globe:

For noe man that can singe and say e,
Was scar’d on St. Peter’s day.
Oh sorrow, pittifull sorrow; and yett all this
is true.”

The theatre was rebuilt in the following year, in so superior a manner, that Taylor, in his epigram, calls it a stately theatre:

“As gold is better that’s in fire tried,
So is the Bankside Globe, that late was burn’d;
For where before it had a thatched hide,
Now to a stately theatre is turn’d.”

Although the interior arrangements of the theatre in the time of Shakespeare did not, in their leading features, differ from those observed at the present day, yet the construction was rude and inconvenient; galleries were formed on three sides of the house, and beneath them were rooms, which were equivalent to our boxes: and there is reason to believe they were occasionally the property of individuals, and not let commonly. The stage was divided into two parts, namely, an upper and a lower stage; an advantage which was particularly felt in representing the playscene in the tragedy of Hamlet. The musicians did not intervene between the pit and the stage, but were stationed in an elevated balcony, nearly occupying that part of the house now denominated the upper stagebox. At the private theatres seats were placed on the stage for critics and amateurs, a privilege by which Dekker says,

“you have a signed patent to engross the whole commodity of censure; may lawfully presume to be a guider and stand at the helm to steer the passage of scenes.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

London – The First Theatres – 1629

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

London – The First Theatres – 1629

When the first London theatre was built, or where it was actually situated, seems doubtful; but early in the reign of Elizabeth, the Curtain, the Red Bull, and the Globe theatres, were all flourishing. The love of the drama appears to have spread with singular rapidity; for Rymer, in his Fosdera, relates, that in the sixty years preceding [1629], no less than seventeen “common play houses” were built in and about London, “five inns or common osteries were turned to playhouses, one cockpit, St. Paul’s singing school, the Globe on the Bankside, the Fortune near Golden Lane, one in White Fryars, etc. besides the new built Bear-gardens, built as well for plays as fencers, bear and bull-baiting.”

Popular, however, as plays were, they appear to have yielded in royal estimation to bear-baiting; and there is an order of the privy council of Queen Elizabeth in 1591 extant, which prohibits plays been acted on Thursdays, because they “were a great hurt and destruction of the game of bear-baiting and like pastimes, which are maintained for her majesty’s pleasure” on those days. Among the early London theatres, the Globe is entitled to the first notice, on account of its connection with the great magician of the drama.

Pennant was so anxious to identify Shakespeare with the Globe Theatre, that in a map he has given, purporting to be a plan of London and Westminster in the year 1563, he has introduced the singular anachronism of “Shakespeare’s play-house,” although the immortal bard was not born until the following year; nor the Globe Theatre built on the site of an amphitheatre for bear-baiting in Bank side, Southwark, until the year 1596-8. It is a round building of wood, a circumstance which seems to be alluded to by Shakespeare in the play of Henry V.

“Can this cock-pit hold
The field of vasty France? or can we cram
Into this wooden O, the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?”

The house was very spacious, the partial roof was covered with rushes, but the area was open. On the turret or roof a silk flag, the usual emblem of places of amusement, was displayed; and in the front of the building was a painting, exhibiting Hercules supporting the globe, with the motto,; Totus mundus agit histrionem.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

London – Public Gardens – 1700s – Ranelagh

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s public gardens, also known as tea-gardens, in the 18th Century.

 Read other posts in this series

London – Public Gardens – 1700s – Ranelagh

The ancient sports and pastimes of the citizens of London have already been noticed. When the more chivalrous, but less refined, of these amusements had passed away, and a love of music and the drama had succeeded, a new species of entertainment sprung up, which, to these attractions, united those of sociability and an indulgence in the pleasures of the table. These were obtained at the public gardens, which, in the early part of the last century, were so numerous in the metropolis. The entertainments usually consisted of music, vocal and instrumental; fire-works and transparencies were displayed, and sometimes burlettas, or other dramatic pieces performed. Of these once popular places of amusement, Vauxhall is the only one that retains its original character, the others having either entirely disappeared, and their sites been occupied with buildings, or they have sunk into common tea-gardens, where the humbler classes of society relax on a Sunday evening in summer, and indulge themselves with a glass of “home-brewed ale,” or their wives and families with a cup of tea.

The most celebrated, and one of the most recent of these gardens was Ranelagh, near Chelsea, once the seat of a nobleman of that name. On his death, in 1733, the estate was sold, and fell into the hands of some speculative gentlemen, who determined on forming it into a place of public amusement, similar to Vauxhall, which had just risen into popularity. In the fitting up the gardens, a magnificent rotunda was erected, a hundred and fifty feet in diameter, in which was an orchestra, with numerous boxes and seats for the audience. The entertainments principally consisted of vocal and instrumental music. The rotunda was opened with a public breakfast, in April 1742, which was followed by a concert. The inhabitants of London are, however, too much occupied to assemble in sufficient numbers for entertainments in the day; and the morning concerts at Ranelagh were soon relinquished for evening amusements. For some years the tide of fashion set strong in favour of Ranelagh, which was one of the most attractive resorts of the gay world; but afterwards ceasing to be popular, the proprietors, in [1803], raised the building to the ground, and sold the materials. The price of admission was half-a-crown.

Mary-la-Bonne Gardens occupied the site of Manchester-square; they were not formed into a place of regular amusement until the year [1737], when Mr. Gough, the proprietor, who had before kept them gratuitously open, charged a shilling to each person, who in return received a ticket, which enabled him to have victuals or liquor to the full amount of the money paid on entering the gardens. Charles Dibdin and Charles Bannister made their debut, when youths, in Mary-la-Bonne Gardens, where very splendid fetes were frequently given, particularly on the birth-day of his late majesty. Fire-works, and a representation of Mount Etna, were among the amusements. A sort of fair was once held in the gardens, which were on that occasion fitted up with numerous shops and booths.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London – Fairs – 1731

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

Read other posts in this series

London – Fairs – 1731

Bartholomew FairIn another bill, of a later period (1731) a piece was performed, entitled, “The Emperor of China,” written by the author of the “Generous Freemason”. Who this author is, is not stated, but we find the latter piece to have been written by William Rufus Chetwood, who was the tutor of the celebrated Barry, and for twenty years prompter at Drury-lane theatre.

Bartholomew Fair theatricals do not appear to have been thought so contemptible formerly as at present, for both Shuter and Yates had booths there in [1761], when the prices of admission were half-a-crown for the boxes, 1s. 6d. the pit, and a shilling to the gallery.

Dramatic representations, or rather misrepresentations, still prevail at the fair, but they are of the most wretched description. Formerly the lord mayor used to proceed in great state to Smithfield, and after proclaiming the fair, wait to see a wrestling match. The proclamation of the fair by his lordship is still continued, but with much less pageantry than formerly.

Two other fairs were held in London, in Tothillfields, and at Stepney; but these have been suppressed, as have those of Bow, Edmonton, Brook Green, and West End, all in the immediate neighbourhood of London. There is another fair, which, though at some distance from town, claims a notice on account of its popularity with almost all ranks in the metropolis. This is Fairlop Fair, which is held on the first Friday of July, in Hainault forest. This fair was founded by Daniel Day, an eminent block maker in Wapping, who, having an estate in Essex, used to assemble a few friends around him on the 1st of July, under a huge oak in the forest, to dine on beans and bacon. Public curiosity was at length attracted to the spot from this circumstance, and a fair established, which, in fine weather, is frequented by thousands from the metropolis, the block-makers proceeding in a huge boat, rigged like a ship, which is mounted on a carriage and drawn by six horses.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

 

London – Fairs – Elkanah Settle

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

Read other posts in this series

London – Fairs – Elkanah Settle

Poor Elkanah Settle, who was the city Laureate, and had what Ben Jonson called the chandlery-shop pension, was, in his old age, reduced to the wretched shifts of writing drolls for Bartholomew Fair, and even to appear in a green leather case as a hissing serpent, vomiting fire, a circumstance alluded to with somewhat unfeeling severity, by  Dr. Young. Bartholomew Fair drolls were succeeded by a nearer approach to the regular drama, as the actors were men and not puppets. The pieces performed by the animated machines were of a less serious cast than those enacted by the puppets; and, in the British metropolis, we are not surprised to find that Whittingtons history should be one of the earliest and most popular of these dramas. The following Bartholomew Fair play-bill is of the reign of Queen Anne, and is copied from the Harleian MS. already alluded to:

“At Ben Johnson’s Booth, (by Mrs. Trynn’s company of actors,) in the rounds in Smithfield, during the fair, will be presented an excellent entertainment, being the famous History of Whittington, Lord Mayor of London; wherein, besides the variety of songs and dances, will be shown an extraordinary view of several stately and surprising scenes; as a rowling sea, bearing a large ship under sayl, with Neptune, mermaids, dolphins, etc; also, a prospect of a Moorish country, so swarming with rats and mice, that they over-run the king and queen’s table at dinner; likewise, a large diverting scene of tapestry, filled with all living figures; and, lastly, concluding with a lord mayor’s triumph, in which are presented nine several pageants, being six elephants and castles, a magnificent temple, and two triumphal chariots, one drawn by two lyons, and the other by two dolphins; in all which are seated above twenty persons, in various dresses; with flags, scutcheons, streamers, etc. The preparation and decoration of which infinitely exceed, both in expense and grandeur, all that has ever been seen on a stage in the fair.

“The chief parts are performed by actors from both theatres. Vivat Regina.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

 

London – Fairs – 1700s – Roasted Pigs

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

Read other posts in this series

London – Fairs – 1700s Roasted Pigs

Pye-corner was also celebrated for roasted pigs, a prominent attraction in the fair, which were sold piping-hot in booths and stalls, and ostentatiously displayed. Various allusions are made to the Bartholomew Fair pig in Ben Jonson’s comedy of Bartholomew Fair, whence we learn that these delicacies were not confined to one particular place in the fair. Littlewit, addressing the puritanical wife, Win-the fight, says,

“Win, long to eat of a pig, sweet Win, i’the fair; d’ye see, i’the heart of the fair, not at Pyecorner.”

Of their attractiveness we have evidence in the Festivous notes of Gayton, who says, “If Bartholomew Fair should last a whole year, nor pigs nor puppet-shows would ever be surfeited of.”

Although Charles II. only confirmed the original charter of Henry II. which limited the fair to three days, yet it appears to have extended to a fortnight’s duration, either in his reign, or soon after, as we find from Ned Ward, who describes “the quality of the fair strutting round their balconies in their tinsey robes and golden leather buskins, expressing such pride in their buffoonery stateliness, that I could but reasonably believe they were as much elevated with the thought of their fortnight’s pageantry, as ever Alexander was with the glories of a new conquest”

The drolls, or “motions,” as they are more generally called in the early accounts of the fair, were a sort of dramatic entertainment performed by puppets, and generally founded on some part of the scripture history. Ben Jonson, in his play, gives the names of several of these motions; and among the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum, there is a collection of advertisements, about the reign of Queen Anne, in which there are some curious bills of the performances in the fair. Two of these (printed in the Percy Anecdotes of Pastime) are of “Operas,” called the “Old Creation of the World newly Revived” and one of them gives the “addition of Noah’s flood; also several fountains playing water during the time of the play.” The other adds a portion of the history from the New Testament, including the birth of Christ, Herod’s cruelty, the Feast of Dives, his treatment of Lazarus, and concluding with “Rich Dives in hell, and Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom; seen in a most glorious object, all in machines, descending in a throne, guarded with multitudes of angels, with the breaking of the clouds, discovering the palace of the Sun, in double and treble prospects, to the admiration of all spectators.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

 

London – Fairs – Bartholomew Fair

 

var addthis_config = {“data_track_addressbar”:true};

 

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

Read other posts in this series

Read other posts in the London series

 London – Fairs – Bartholomew Fair

Bartholomew Fair, that annual scene of disorder, is still continued, though reduced in duration from a fortnight, to which it had extended, to three days, the time originally fixed, and it is declining so rapidly, that in a few years it will probably be discontinued altogether without any positive suppression, as has been the case with the fairs in the environs of London, Indeed, some doubts are entertained of the legality of suppressing the fair, as it is held under a charter granted by Henry II. to the priory of Bartholomew, and confirmed by succeeding monarchs. This fair, Stowe says, was appointed to be kept yearly “at Bartholomew-tide, for three days; to wit, the eve, the day, and the next morrow.” It was no doubt originally intended chiefly as a fair of business, as the same historian says, the clothiers of England and drapers of London repaired to it,” and had their booths and standing within the church-yard of this priory closed in with walls and gates, locked every night, and watched for safety of men’s goods and wares.”

The fair soon appears to have been extended in its duration; for the same writer says, in his time three days were devoted to business, and the rest “to see drolls, farces, rope-dancing, feats of activity, wonderful and monstrous creatures, wild beasts made tame, giants, etc.” One of the many instances we find in London of a particular branch of trade clinging to the same place, is connected with this fair; for, leading into Smithfield, there is a narrow lane, principally occupied by clothiers, or woollen drapers, as they are now more generally called, and which retains the name of Cloth Fair.

It is probable, however, that although cloth was the staple, it was never intended to be the only article dealt in; and we find that at one time various parts of Smithfield were appropriated to the sale of particular articles. Near Smithfield Bars, there was a place where shoes were generally sold, and it was therefore called Shoemaker-row; bows and arrows were also sold here as we find from Tom d’Durfey, who, in his “Pills to purge melancholy,” describing the fair in 1655, says,

“At Pye-corner end, mark well, my good friend, Tis a very fine dirty place;

Where there’s more arrows and bows, the Lord above knows, Than was handled at Chevy Chase.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy


London – Fairs – 1700s – The Mint

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

Read other posts in this series

London – Fairs – 1700s – The Mint

Plays were enacted as at Bartholomew Fair, and Rich is said to have met withBartholomew Fair Walker, the original Macheath, at this fair, playing in a booth: upon being struck with his talents, he engaged him for the Lincoln’s Inn Theatre. This fair used to continue for upwards of a week; but in September 1743 it was limited to three days, on which the proprietors of booths, who usually made a collection for the prisoners in the Marshal sea, declared they could no longer afford it. This so incensed the prisoners, that they pulled up the pavement, and threw stones over the wall on the bowling-green adjoining the prison, by which a child was killed and several persons wounded. The high constables and magistrates now determined on putting down the fair; but the proprietors of booths and stalls removed to the Mint, a place that had long claimed peculiar privileges on account of the palace which formerly stood there, built by Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Here the fair was held for some time, until, in the year [1763], it was entirely suppressed.

May Fair, which commenced on the first of May, and continued for sixteen days, was held near Piccadilly and Park Lane, on the site now occupied by May Fair Chapel and the adjacent mansions. The place was formerly called Brook fields. More important business appears to have been transacted at this fair than mere drolls, since, in an advertisement of the year [1700], it is stated, that the first three days of the fair were “for live cattle and leather;” but, from its being added, “with the same entertainments as at Bartholomew Fair,” it is probable that the pretended sale of leather was only to give a show of business in order to prevent its being suppressed.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

 

London – Fairs – Three Fairs

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

Read other posts in this series

London – Fairs -Three Fairs

Bartholomew FairFrom markets to fairs the transition is natural enough, since the latter, according to scriptural and modern acceptation, are fixed meetings of buyers or sellers, or markets on a larger scale; and it appears, from the Northumberland-house book, that in the early part of the 16th century, the stores for the household for a whole year were usually purchased at fairs. Far different, however, are the fairs held in the metropolis and its neighbourhood, where “raree shows are seen, and Punch’s feats, And pockets picked in crowds, and various cheats.”

Three of these fairs were formerly held in the metropolis, Bartholomew fair, Southwark fair, and May fair: the two latter have been abolished, and the former shorn of much of its ancient glory. Southwark fair commenced on the 8th of September, on which day the lord mayor and sheriffs were wont to ride in their scarlet gowns, after dinner, at two o’clock, to St Magnus’s church, where they were met by the aldermen. After evening prayer, they all rode through the fair, as far as Newington bridge, and then retiring to the Bridge house they “refresh themselves with a banquet.” Here, as at all the fairs in London, there was “First of all, crowds against other crowds driving; Like wind and tide meeting, each contrary striving; Shrill fiddling, sharp fighting, and shouting and shrieking; Fifes, trumpets, drums, bag-pipes, and barrow girl squeaking.”

“There was drolls, hornpipe dancing, and showing of postures,
With frying black puddings, and opening of oysters;
With salt-box solos, and gallery folks squalling,
The tap-house guests roaring, and mouth-pieces bawling.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London – Markets – Milk & Cheese

This is the third and final part of our three part series on the early provision consumption of London – the article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

Read other posts in this series

London – Markets – Milk & Cheese

The annual consumption of butter in London amounts to about 11,000, and that of cheese to 13,000 tons. The money paid annually for milk is supposed to amount to £1,250,000. although the number of cows kept in the neighbourhood of the metropolis does not exceed 10,000. One grazier at Islington keeps between six and seven hundred cows, and another between four and five hundred.

The wretched quality of the London milk is proverbial; and although the cow-keepers do not water it themselves, they not only permit the milkmen to do it openly, but have pumps convenient for the purpose.

The quantity of poultry annually consumed in London is supposed to cost between seventy and eighty thousand pounds; that of game depends on the fruitfulness of the season and the kindness of country friends. There is nothing, however, more surprising than the sale of rabbits. One salesman in Leadenhall market, during a considerable portion of the year, is said to sell 14,000 rabbits weekly. The way in which he disposes of them is, by employing between 150 and 200 men and women, who hawk them through the streets.

As the buildings and population of London increase, new markets are opened in different parts of the town; they are, however, all open marts of trade, and can never be subject to the abuses which have prevailed in those of the city, where the markets were farmed to collectors, so extortionate, that in 1696, on a petition of the market people, a Committee of the Common Council was appointed to investigate the charges.  The report was favourable to the complainants, and actions were commenced against the farmers to Leadenhall Stocks, Honey Lane, and Newgate markets, who were guilty of arbitrary and extravagant proceedings, whereby they had extorted an annual rent of £10,896. 9s. 10d. for stalls, and fines amounting to £2194 1s 6d. The farmers were compelled to refund the several sums thus unjustly levied.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

===+++===

Further reading and external links

Cheapside and London Retail Trade in the 18th Century

Sholto and Reuben Percy