The Rose Theatre

14 March 2012

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The Rose Theatre. Copyright © English HeritageThe Rose Theatre. Copyright © English Heritage

In 1989 the 400-year old archaeological remains of a theatre were discovered along London’s Bankside during an excavation for a new office block.  The workers had found the remains of London’s fifth theatre: the Rose.

Its discovery provided the first convincing physical evidence ever seen of a sixteenth century open-roofed playhouse. And news of the find hit headlines across the world.

The Rose was the first Elizabethan theatre on Bankside and was home to many of Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s first productions. The Rose’s success encouraged other theatres to be built on Bankside, namely the Swan in 1595 and the Globe in 1599.

Archaeology at The Rose. Copyright © The Theatres Trust.

Now managed by the Rose Theatre Trust, the remains are preserved in the basement of the now completed office building. The Trust re-opened the site to the public in 1999 ensuring its significance would never be forgotten. Although covered by an inch of water to preserve the foundations, red rope lights now mark the size of the theatre, its courtyard and pit, and the position of its two stages.

In 2007 The Rose was re-launched as a distinctive performance space with actors carefully performing on the viewing platform around the perimeter of the site. Once again this historic venue is a performance space. It continues to inspire actors and other artists, just as it did over 400 years ago.  There are regular performances, events and open days – find out more by visiting

The Theatres Trust has information on more than 3,500 theatres across the UK and we profile theatres under threat through our annual Theatres Buildings at Risk Register.

Is there a theatre in your neighbourhood waiting to be discovered?

If you want to go exploring and find out more about theatres visit the Trust’s website and follow us on twitter @theatrestrust @exploretheatres and Facebook.


Post by Kate Carmichael, Resources Offices, The Theatres Trust.

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