SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE THEATRE, LONDON

Forsooth -what could be more English than William Shakespeare himself. This month I took my children on a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and to visit the exhibition there. Perfectly positioned on the banks of the Thames opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, we had already enjoyed late night drinks at the Swan Pub next door the previous day.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, being set up for a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet

Tours of the Globe run every 15 minutes and there is no need to book unless you are a large group. Tours are guided – you can’t just pop round by yourself – and the tour includes access to the Exhibition. Children get in free to the Exhibition if they have a Blue Peter Badge, although you still need to pay for them for the tour. See here on how to get a badge if you live in the UK and have a child age 6-15.

Our tour guide enthralled our group throughout as he entertained us with intriguing facts, hilarious stories, anecdotes aplenty and traditional audience participation. This is not a dry tour, it’s a totally engaging experience. Starting outside we learned about the bawdy era of Shakespeare’s Southwark, then a neighbouring but separate area to the City of London, and the somewhat smelly crowd that made up his punters back in 1599 when the original Globe opened. There was plenty of gross detail about the great unwashed for the kids to enjoy.

Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe – stage in action

Entering the theatre we heard about the long quest to build it and about how its founders, Sam Wanamaker, father of British actress Zoe Wanamaker, and architect Theo Crosby, sadly both died before construction finished in 1997. Neither got to see it open.

 

 

Things we found particularly interesting:

-How Shakespeare pulled in the crowds by being a better night out than bear baiting and brothel visiting.

-Why this part of London was party central.

-Why microphones aren’t needed on stage and why rich folk sat behind the actors.

-Why the roof doesn’t cover the theatre.

-Where people went to the toilet back in Shakespeare’s day, with 1,000 people crammed in the standing area (clue…on the floor…I told you it was gross)

-How Shakespeare’s Henry VIII ended in the theatre being burned to the ground.

 

The Tour was thoroughly enjoyable with plenty of opportunity for questions and breaks for Shakespeare style drama from our guide.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Exhibition: Props store, Elizabeth I costume, interactive ‘Join the Cast’ and model of London in the 1600s.

The exhibition ranges over 2 floors and is extensive. There are plenty of hands-on elements, where you can use a machine to make sound effects for the stage, record yourself performing (a big hit with my children) and use interactive exhibits.

Excitingly, actors were learning sword fighting and there was the opportunity to hold the stage swords. There is an audio tour and a kids version too.  We always find the kids tours suit the whole family. Shakespeare’s London, the printing press, the costume and music of performance and the history of the theatre are all explored in the Exhibition.

 

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Mark Rylance’s costume – he was the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

The Globe is a fascinating insight, not only into Shakespeare and his works but the history of London and of the theatre in general. As Shakespeare himself said,

‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’

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Where Jo Goes other London Reviews:

Things to do Greenwich/HMS Belfast/British Library/ Royal Albert Hall/World’s Biggest Lego Store/Ham House (National Trust)

Hotels 4*  Pullman London St Pancras/ Hotels Budget Premier Inn Kensington

Family Friendly Budget Restaurants Pizza Pilgrims/Snog Frozen Yoghurt

Days out from London Legoland Top Tips/Legoland Top 10 Rides/Oxford

Linking up with:weekend travel inspiration

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35 Comments

  1. April 22, 2017 / 9:12 pm

    Huh. How annoying. Hadn’t realised there was so much to see as part of the tour when I was conveniently on its doorstep. Still, there’s always summer. Going to the toilet on the floor is very gross. The kids will love it. Why DID rich people sit behand the stage?

    • April 23, 2017 / 10:26 am

      So that they could hear the actors rather than just the noisy mob of the audience!

  2. April 23, 2017 / 6:20 pm

    I wish I knew about touring the Globe Theatre. London has so many attractions and with limited time, it’s always been about the big ones or day trips. I love this and the sour sounds so interesting especially its history. Definitely marking this for the next London visit.

  3. April 24, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    It looks brilliant, thanks for the review, I didn’t realise that you could do a tour! Something for me to look at for our next trip up to London

  4. April 25, 2017 / 8:32 am

    Our friend use to work there so we use to go all the time. Not been to the exhibits though – will have to remedy this next time we are in London #citytripping

  5. April 25, 2017 / 5:04 pm

    I came close to visiting the Globe on my trip to London, but my travelling partner, having been scarred by high school English classes, was not in any way interested in anything Shakespearean! 😉

  6. April 25, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    I definitely would love to see a performance here one day! I became a big fan just a few years ago of Shakespeare when I watched Shakespeare in Love… I knoooow! But in school I didn’t like it, but now I love classics like these! #CityTripping

  7. April 25, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit the Globe. Thank you for sharing your experience. #citytripping

  8. April 25, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    This has been on my must-do list in London for far too long – having read your post I think i will have to go! #citytripping

  9. April 26, 2017 / 5:58 am

    How cool! We stepped into the lobby on our last visit, but didn’t realize there were tours! Definitely doing this next time! #citytripping

  10. April 26, 2017 / 6:49 am

    I’m so glad that they have a guided tour, the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is one of my places to see if I get to London..again (it has been many years since my last trip). And how convenient is that St Paul’s Cathedral is situated oppposite the theatre – another must-see place for me 🙂 Thanks for sharing! #Citytripping

    • April 26, 2017 / 2:44 pm

      Beautiful views of the Cathedral from the Globe

  11. April 26, 2017 / 2:15 pm

    I need to do this tour! I didn’t realise they were so frequent. Thanks for information and inspiration. I’ve only been to The Swan pub (we went for my birthday) which I recommend too. Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • April 26, 2017 / 2:45 pm

      Yes I read your birthday post when you went to the Tate and the Pub -it was a lovely day out! We just popped in the pub in the evening for a drink (it was 10pm kids wanted to go to bed lol!) – fab views of St Pauls at night!

  12. April 27, 2017 / 2:38 am

    Oh gross! You just had to add in that detail about the ‘toilet’ and now it’s stuck in my mind. #CityTripping

    • April 27, 2017 / 7:54 am

      The reason why ladies had long skirts!

  13. April 27, 2017 / 3:32 pm

    Still haven’t been here, despite studying English Literature at Uni. Love the sound of the sword fights, my sons (aged 2 & 3) would be right in about them! #citytripping

  14. April 28, 2017 / 4:08 am

    What a cool thing to do! The interactive elements sound great..pinning this should I find myself that way. #citytripping

    • May 6, 2017 / 9:17 pm

      They had the stage set up for Romeo and Juliet when we were there – it’s a modern version isn’t it? They were talking about it, it sounded really exciting. Have a great time!

  15. May 7, 2017 / 9:39 am

    This is something I definitely need to do with my older two, they would absolutely love it. It’s so interesting isn’t it? Did you know there’s a replica Globe Theatre in Rome too?

  16. May 7, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    All those facts are so interesting. Sounds as though this is a tour that’s well-suited to children. Anything that involves going to the toilet on the floor, or places burning to the ground, is bound to grab them! You’ve reminded me: I really must do this. #CulturedKids

  17. May 7, 2017 / 10:39 pm

    I go to the Globe every year to watch a performance. Absolutely love the place. I’ve never done a tour though and this has totally inspired me to go on one. #CulturedKids

  18. May 9, 2017 / 1:15 pm

    I did this tour on the first week I started sixth form back in 2000-eek!! I still remember it though and have wanted to return with the family. There is so much to do in London when we visit it’s hard to fit it all in #CulturedKids

  19. May 13, 2017 / 8:44 am

    How cool to see it from the inside. I’ve only seen it from the outside, which is cool in itself 🙂

  20. May 13, 2017 / 11:31 am

    This tour is fascinating and is full of interesting facts. When I went, I got to see the stage being set up for some international groups for plays to be performed in foreign languages.

    • May 13, 2017 / 11:56 am

      That’s great they do the shows in foreign languages!

  21. May 19, 2017 / 5:25 am

    If I had known that the tour was this interesting, I would not have skipped it when we were in London last summer. (Yes, gross about the toilet practice.) I think my kids would have found this much more informative than the walk through Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-on-Avon. I suppose I have an excuse for a return visit to England now. #WkendTravelInspiration

    • May 19, 2017 / 12:00 pm

      We enjoyed Shakespeare’s home as well but this was more entertaining and funny. Thanks for reading!

  22. June 10, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    Even though Shakespeare is not my favorite, I would still love to see a show at the Globe Theatre because it is a such a special place. Taking a tour also sounds really interesting to me. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  23. June 11, 2017 / 3:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing your visit on #TheWeeklyPostcard, Jo! Being big fans, Shakespeare’s Globe is really high on our UK bucket list, so we thoroughly enjoyed your post. Can’t wait to go ourselves! And hoping they’ve rectified the loo situation by now, yes? 😉

  24. June 11, 2017 / 5:57 pm

    How cool!! When I was in London a year ago I didn’t have time to stop in and take the tour (that, and London is so expensive!) It sounds like there is so much to learn; more than I would have thought. Thanks for sharing, perhaps next time I’m in London I’ll make it a point to take the official tour. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  25. June 15, 2017 / 7:28 pm

    We skipped the Globe when we were in London last year; now I wish we hadn’t. Thanks for letting us follow along with you on your tour! #theweeklypostcard

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