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London's oldest theatre unearthed in the East End

It's thought to have been built in 1567

HELLO! Magazine

Archeologists have unearthed London's earliest theatre at a housing development in London's East End. Archaeologists from UCL Archaeology South East discovered the Elizabethan-era playhouse in Whitechapel, and could be a vital part of the history of theatres and performances. Known as The Red Lion, it's believed to have been built in 1567 by John Brayne, who then, along with actor Richard Burbage, went on to construct another theatre, The Theatre, in Shoreditch in 1576. Burbage was a popular actor at the time, and The Theatre was the first permanent home for actors and playwrights, even staging a young William Shakespeare’s plays in the 1590s.

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A 3D model diagram of the earliest playhouse in London

Archaeologist Stephen White, who directed the dig, told the BBC: "After nearly 500 years, the remains of the Red Lion playhouse, which marked the dawn of Elizabethan theatre, may have finally been found. The strength of the combined evident – archaeological remains of buildings, in the right location, of the right period – seem to match up with characteristics of the playhouse recorded in early documents."

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A map where The Red Lion was in the 16th century

The Red Lion was a drinking inn which allowed the first purpose-built theatre to be built on its property; the site is said to be extremely important in the history of theatre, as it marked an upgrade in where plays were performed – from inn yards to dedicated performance spaces.

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