56 Park Street
London SE1 9AR
TfL Fare Zone 1
The Rose Theatre was the first Elizabethan theatre to be built on the south side of the River Thames. It was built in 1587 for local businessman Philip Henslowe on low lying land leased at Bankside (within the ‘Liberty of the Clink’). A Blue Plaque at 56 Park Street marks the spot.
The Rose Theatre Trust website describes the southern bank of the River Thames in the 16th century as being already rich in other leisure attractions such as brothels, gaming dens and bull/bear-baiting arenas.
It is said that the powerful Bishops of Winchester
exercised sole authority within Bankside's 'Liberty of The Clink', including the right to licence prostitutes under a Royal Ordinance dating back to 1161. These women became known as 'Winchester
Geese'. For those interested, refer to the articles Winchester House
and Crossbones Garden
in this website.
The Theatre appears to have derived its name from the "Little Rose", a tenement with two gardens being the land where the theatre was built. The exact date when the Theatre was first used is not known, however City records indicate that it was in use by late 1587.
Lord Strange's Men
On 3 March 1592 the play Henry VI Part 1
by William Shakespeare
was produced by Lord Strange's Men at the Rose Theatre
. The 1592–4 period was difficult for the theatre because The Plague
was sweeping London
and the countryside. After the Plague
subsided, The Rose was home for several years to the ‘Admiral's Men’ group of players.
In 1599, the ‘Lord Chamberlain's Men’ built The Globe Theatre
next door to The Rose making viable operation even more difficult. The Rose was used briefly by the ‘Worcester's Men’ troupe in 1602 and 1603. The theatre’s lease ran out in 1605 and the playhouse may have been pulled down, possibly as early as 1606.
During 1989, the remains of the Rose were threatened with destruction by building development. That threat was averted to some extent when it was eventually decided to build over the top of the theatre's remains, leaving them conserved beneath.
The Rose Exhibition
A large scale model (1:50 scale) of the as it might have been in 1587 is now part of the Rose Exhibition, literally taking centre stage. This model gives visitors a good representation of The Rose when all that is visible now is the foundations!
Visitors can view the preserved Rose Theatre excavation site on tours conducted during the summer months.
Fridays (July & August) and Saturdays:
10:00 – 17:00 hours.
Rose volunteers will discuss the theatre’s fascinating history and exciting future. There are several artefacts from the dig in 1989 to view and a film history of the site to watch narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.
A requested donation of £3.00 per person.
The donation will contribute directly towards the completion of ‘The Rose Revealed Project’. This will ensure the conservation and full excavation of the rose site. The Rose Theatre Trust intends to create a permanent exhibition and theatre space, with proper visitor facilities.
Various productions are run during the year – they are performed in the area outside the foundations but under cover.
Contact, Further Information, What's On & Tickets:
+44 (0)2072 619 565
History of The Rose Theatre
To plan your journey whilst in London, use the Transport for London 'Journey Planner' on this page.
- By underground
Mansion House Station District and Circle Lines (10 minute walk)
London Bridge Station Northern and Jubilee Lines (10 minute walk)
Southwark Station Jubilee Line (15 minute walk)
St Paul's Station Central Line
A 15 minute walk across the Millennium Bridge and past The Globe Theatre
along Bankside brings the visitor to New Globe Walk on the right.
Turn down New Globe Walk until it intersects with Park Street. Turn left, walk past a small street called Bear Gardens and the theatre site is on your left.
Google Maps - Rose Theatre