‘The Measure of the Curtain: instigators, owners, sharers and players’, a talk by Dr Eva Griffith at the London Metropolitan Archives on 10 September, with Claudia Roncallo (Juliet and Nurse) and David Amelang (Romeo and Henry V). Part of the Drawing Shakespeare’s Curtain day.
The Curtain, when seen as a Field
“To cut a long story short, if one wished it, one could see all of early theatre history flourishing in this field…”
I am adding some extra notes to this, my morning talk of 10 September 2016, entitled ‘The Measure of the Curtain: instigators, owners, sharers and players’. This was given first session at ‘Drawing Shakespeare’s Curtain’ – an event in the Huntley Room at the London Metropolitan Archives – at 10.30am on that day. Many of the following items were listed in the presentation that went along with this talk, so it’s only right I should list them here, published as a set for the first time, concentrating on #ThatField in Shoreditch.
- The ‘Esore’ document. The National Archives (TNA) C24/226/11 Pt.1.
- The Queen’s Servants’ draft patent (which mentions the Curtain as a venue where they’d played before) is TNA SP 14/2, 246v-247.
- The Close roll detailing Thomas Middleton’s holdings on the Curtain field (naming Allan Waterer, his brother-in-law, ‘Mrs Beston’ (Beeston?) and Mary Wilkinson, widow) and others is found at TNA C54/1693 unnumbered items (a long way into the roll – have a care).
- The beautiful tripartite agreement showing Christopher Beeston’s right to access Curtain field land is found at The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) O/257/001.
- The National Archives document which also records Beeston’s King’s Head (Hog Lane/Worship Street) holdings is found at TNA C54/3060, no.3
- “^Jana Beeston uxor^” Jane Beeston, (wife of Christopher Beeston) recusant! LMA MJ/SR/0550, 152.
- 1611 – when the Curtain property changed hands to Edward Morris, embroiderer – Thomas Greene and Christopher Beeston mentioned… TNA C54/2075, no.17
A few extra confirming details would include the fact that yes, William Middleton, Thomas Middleton’s father, was a City of London Bricklayer who owned property on the site. (Did he build the Curtain playhouse? A paper: ‘Bricklayers, playwrights and playing the field’ given at the Birkbeck Early Modern Society in October 2016 revealed more.)
The Thomas Wriothesley, earl of Southampton, who is listed among those having once been associated with the field, was the grandfather of Henry Wriothesley (Shakespeare’s patron), I believe.
There were other actors, theatre-builders and playwrights associated with this acreage in Shoreditch. Follow me on Twitter @EvaGriffith19 #ThatField.
This list is not exhaustive! Research is ongoing! Watch this space!
Eva Griffith says
So Dr. Griffith herself is leaving a few comments. First note to myself: must get contact lenses or improve ability to move eyes from page to screen and back again. (Sighs)
Hmm… The time period when the Chamberlain’s Men moved to the Curtain from the Theatre is interesting – traditionally 1597-1599 (1599 is when they moved to the Bankside). But Herbert Berry couldn’t understand why they’d carry on paying renogotiated payments to the land-owner of the Theatre ground during that time, so Herb narrowed the move to 1598-9. I’ve no idea right now why I said 1597-8…
Roods and Rods – do you know, I’m still seeing conflicting opinion about whether these terms mean the same thing or different. Even the OED looks confused on the issue. Either way, when it comes to measurements, all the documents I’ve seen so far offer widely conflicting opinions as to how big that Curtain field was.