Crosse Keys Inn (Shakespeare-era site), London

Crosse Keys Inn (Shakespeare-era site), London

While numerous Elizabethan dramas found their stage in theaters such as the Globe or the Rose, a significant portion of the population attended plays at inns, which were structured around central courtyards. In these inns, rooms featured balconies overlooking the central area, and this architectural arrangement was no accident, as most travelers arrived via horse or horse-drawn carriages, entering the central courtyard. The layout also proved ideal for staging plays, as inn guests could watch the performances from their balconies and then retreat to their rooms. Acting troupes capitalized on this setup by erecting stages and offering standing tickets for the courtyard and premium tickets for the balconies. One such establishment, the Cross Keys Inn on Gracechurch Street, enjoyed the privilege of hosting performances between 1576 and 1594, as it was one of four inns granted permits by the City of London to do so. William Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain's Men regularly showcased their talents at this venue.

With the construction of more dedicated theaters, the practice of using inn courtyards for performances gradually declined. Furthermore, in 1594, the city council prohibited the use of inns for this purpose, citing the Crosse Keys theatre as a negative influence, leading to stringent regulations on theatrical activities. Nevertheless, the architectural designs of venues like the Globe and other Elizabethan theaters, featuring balconies encircling a central courtyard, were directly inspired by the inn architecture of the time.

In modern times, the Crosse Keys has transformed into a roomy pub distinguished by its lofty ceilings and a stained-glass cupola positioned above its expansive oval bar. Here, patrons can enjoy a diverse selection of real ales, craft beers, and freshly brewed coffee.

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Crosse Keys Inn (Shakespeare-era site) on Map

Sight Name: Crosse Keys Inn (Shakespeare-era site)
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Food/Drink
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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