Ancient Monuments

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The Rose Theatre, Rose Court, Southwark

A Scheduled Monument in Cathedrals, Southwark

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Latitude: 51.5072 / 51°30'26"N

Longitude: -0.0954 / 0°5'43"W

OS Eastings: 532276.882454

OS Northings: 180420.04373

OS Grid: TQ322804

Mapcode National: GBR QF.QW

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.9CFX

Entry Name: The Rose Theatre, Rose Court, Southwark

Scheduled Date: 28 February 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012707

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20851

County: Southwark

Electoral Ward/Division: Cathedrals

Built-Up Area: Southwark

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Saviour with All Hallows Southwark

Church of England Diocese: Southwark


The monument includes the surviving remains of an Elizabethan and Jacobean
theatre identified as the Rose Theatre. The Rose, built in or shortly after
AD 1587 by the impresario Philip Henslowe, was the earliest of four similar
playhouses constructed on the south bank of the Thames in London. The last
known performance at the Rose was in 1603.
The remains of the theatre include a pair of concentric wall footings, 3.5
metres apart, enclosing an irregular polygon some 25 metres (projected)
across. The original timber-framed superstructure with lath-and-plaster walls
was constructed on a trench-built footing of brick and chalk. Extra stability
was provided by a series of closely spaced rubble-filled pits below the
footing. The inner wall enclosed a central yard, level to the south but
sloping towards the stage to the north. It was edged by an eaves-drip and
floored with a layer of mortar on which spectators could stand. After a period
of use the theatre was apparently extended northwards in order to accommodate
a larger audience. This work included moving the stage and reflooring the yard
and may represent the alterations attested to in records of AD 1592.
The office building constructed over the site, the Rose Court building, is
excluded from the scheduling. The area of the scheduling which is confined
within the walls of the basement of the Rose Court building is shown on the
attached Plan A outlined in red.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Rose Theatre represents one of the earliest purpose-built commercial
playhouses in England, and the first of a cluster of Tudor-Jacobean theatres
on the south bank of the Thames in London. The existence nationally of a small
number of similar theatres is attested to by contemporary records but, to
date, the Rose and the nearby remains of the Globe Theatre are the only
examples where physical remains have been identified. The monument therefore
has important rarity value. The high level of preservation of the remains,
with considerable potential for the survival of organic material, greatly
enhances the significance of the monument.

Contemporary documentary evidence for the existence of the theatre and its re-
design is available and the papers of its proprietor, Philip Henslowe, provide
an important source for the study of the Elizabethan theatre. In its heyday
the Rose saw performances of most of Christopher Marlowe's plays and the first
recorded performances of Shakespeare's "Henry VI" and "Titus Andronicus".

Source: Historic England

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