Inn-Yard Playhouses

David Kathman

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697861
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Inn-Yard Playhouses

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)


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Of all the places in and around London where plays were regularly performed between 1576 and 1642, by far the least known and least studied are the four inns within the city limits that hosted plays between the mid-1570s and the mid-1590s. These include the Bell Savage on Ludgate Hill, the Bull in Bishopsgate Street, the Cross Keys on Gracechurch Street, and the Bell on Gracechurch Street, just north of the Cross Keys. In recent years, many new archival records relating to the four inns have emerged, allowing us to reconstruct their histories in considerable detail. These discoveries include the identities of numerous people, previously unknown to theatre historians, who owned or leased the inns during the times they were hosting plays. Two of them were Philip Henslowe and Francis Langley. This article outlines some of what is known about these neglected but important Elizabethan inn-playhouses. It considers the Bull as a more in-depth case study, including its owners and operators.

Keywords: London; plays; inns; inn-playhouses; theatre; Philip Henslowe; Francis Langley; Bull; Bell Savage; Cross Keys

Article.  8259 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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