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Southwark, London

St Marys Dock, Southwark, London, circa 1900
St. Marys Dock, Southwark,
circa 1900
Southwark was an area that was undergoing aggressive development by speculators in Will's day. Crowded tenements were going up as fast as they could build them. Houses were being divided up into apartments and gardens were rapidly disappearing beneath building extensions. The streets and alleys were teeming with life (a large proportion of it parasitic in one form or another).

The area was also home to industries like tanneries and glass works, and the usual variety of interesting odors and pollution that accompany such processes.

The population explosion in turn attracted the Theatre to the area. Southwark became the home of the Globe, The Rose and The Swan; this new theatreland was, just like Shoreditch, just outside the limits (and jurisdiction) of the city. Surrounding the theatres were more than 300 inns and alehouses where guests could eat, drink, gamble and sleep the night away. There were also other fine sources of entertainment, for example bowling, the more questionable spectator sport of bear-baiting and the morally dubious interactive entertainments of the brothels.

Many of Shakespeare's great tavern scenes and the characters that inhabit them were created during his stay in Southwark.

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

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