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1596

Shakespeare summonsed

Facing a possible rent hike and shortened lease agreement by their Puritan landlord at the Theatre in Shoreditch, Shakespeare and company instead take over a hall in Blackfriars, allowing them to set up an indoor theatre. While the new theatre will be warmer and more comfortable, it encounters strong resistance from its wealthy neighbors worried by "the gathering together of all manner of lewd and vagrant persons," i.e. theatergoers.

It is in November in this year that Shakespeare is summonsed to keep the peace in a writ served by an important landowner in Southwark, who presumably didn't want to see the price of his property affected by proximity to a den of sin and inequity like a theatre. The fact that Southwark already had something like 300 inns and brothels at that time – presumably unopposed - will illustrate how bad a reputation theatre had back then.

Evidence

Public Records Office surety case documentShakespeare's summons

Public Record Office documents showing William's summons

Locations

Blackfriars, LondonBlackfriars, London

Southwark, LondonSouthwark, London

The Oxford Arms near Bishopsgate, London, circa 1900Shoreditch, London

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