June 29th – On this day in 1613, the original “Globe” play-house on Bankside in Southwark (see June 12th posting) burned down, during a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry the Eighth”.
Henry Wotton wrote of the event, in a letter to Sir Edmund Bacon (reproduced in “Reliquiae Wottoniae”):
“Now, King Henry making a Masque at the Cardinal Wolsey’s House, and certain Cannons being shot off at his entry, some of the Paper, or other stuff, wherewith one of them was stopped, did light on the Thatch, … and … kindled inwardly, and ran round like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole House to the very ground. This was the fatal period … wherein yet nothing did perish but wood and straw … ; … one man had his breeches set on fire, that would perhaps have broiled him, if he had not by the benefit of a provident wit put it out with bottle ale”.
And John Chamberlain (see also this posting):
“[I]t was a great marvaile and fair grace of God, that the people had so little harm, having but two narrow doors to get out”.
The 400th anniversary, in 2013, was marked by the reconstructed “Globe” by a series of events on the theme of “Shakespeare on Fire”. The site of the original “Globe” is visited on our “Historic Southwark” standard walk, and on our “Tudor and Stuart London” themed special (together with Sam Wanamaker’s reconstruction).
Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of our web-site.