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London – The First Theatres – 1574 – Patents

 

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This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s theatres from the 1100s through to the 1800s.

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London – The First Theatres – 1574 – Patents

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When dramatic representations ceased to be founded on religious subjects, they were no longer performed in churches, as was the case sometimes with the mysteries and moralities, and playhouses became necessary. The convenient form of the  inns (still preserved in many of them) in London, with an open area in the centre, and a gallery on each side of the quadrangle, presented itself as a theatre ready made, with the exception of the stage; this was easily raised either in the centre or on one side of the court, and thus many of our early dramatic pieces were performed in the yards of the inns. Even the first theatres were but a very slight improvement, for the area or pit was generally exposed to the air.

The first company of players that received the sanction of a patent, was that of James Burbidge and others, the servants of the Earl of Leicester, to whom Queen Elizabeth granted a patent in [1574]. The children of the royal chapel, afterwards called the children of the Revels, were next formed into a company; and the Lord Admiral and Lord Strange had each a company of players, who occasionally exhibited at the houses of their patrons, or in other parts of the town. Stowe states, that Lord Strange’s players performed an obnoxious play at the Cross Keys in 1589 and although the lord treasurer had requested the lord mayor to suppress it, they disobeyed the order, which induced his lordship to commit two of them to the Compter, and to prohibit all plays until the pleasure of the lord treasurer was known. Previous to this time the plays were complained of as personal satires; and so early as the year [1574], Sir James Hawes, lord mayor, issued a proclamation in which he claimed for himself and the court of aldermen, the privilege now exercised by the lord chamberlain, of perusing and sanctioning the plays previous to their being acted. A penalty of five pounds and fourteen days imprisonment were inflicted on all actors of plays, “wherein should be uttered any words, examples or doings of any unchastity, sedition, or such like unfit and uncomely matter.” Yet it was provided that this act “should not extend to plays performed in private houses, the lodgings of a nobleman, citizen or gentleman, for the celebration of any marriage or other festivity, and where no collection of money was made from the auditors.”

It appears from Stowe, that the first players were “ingenious tradesmen and gentlemen’s servants,” who united in a company of themselves “to learn interludes, to expose vice, or to represent the noble actions of our ancestors;” but that in process of time it became an occupation, when the players publicly “uttered popular and seditious matters, and shameful speeches; and these plays being commonly acted on Sundays and festivals, the churches were forsaken, and the play houses thronged.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

William Shakespeare on Wikipedia

The Globe Theatre on Wikipedia

Sholto and Rueben Percy

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London Breweries – 1787 – Royal Visit

 

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This is the second part in our two part series on the breweries of London – it covers a time when King George III visited Samuel Whitbreads brewery.  The article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Read other posts in the London series

 

London Breweries – 1787 – Royal Visit

Some of the principal breweries are among the curiosities of London which every stranger is anxious to see. That known by the name of Whitbread’s brewery, in Chiswell Street, the plant of which was, a few years ago, sold for nearly a million of money, was deemed worthy of a royal visit at a time that its business was not so extensive, nor its arrangements so complete, as at present.

It was on the 28th of May, 1787, that his late majesty, George III., accompanied by his illustrious consort and the three princesses, and attended by several lords and ladies in waiting, visited the brewery. They arrived at ten o’clock in the morning, and were received by Mr. Whitbread and his daughter, who conducted them over the brewery. In the stone cistern there were 3007 barrels of beer, but the vat excited the most surprise, and the queen and princesses determined to enter it, though the aperture was so small that it was with difficulty they could accomplish it. This cistern, which is of stone, will hold upwards of 4000 barrels of beer. After their Majesties had passed nearly four hours in investigating the brewery, they were conducted to the house, where a cold collation with every delicacy had been provided. There were wines of every sort, and a quantity of Whithread’s Entire, of which the royal visitors partook, and then retired highly gratified. The brewery of Messrs. Barclay is on an equally magnificent scale.

A singular and melancholy accident happened to one of the London porter breweries, that of Messrs. Henry Meux and Co., in Tottenham Court Road, on the 17th of October 1814, when one of the largest of their vats, filled with beer, burst, and the liquor, like a mighty torrent, swept away every thing before it. One side of the house, in which the vat was placed, was entirely thrown down, though twenty-five feet high, and part of the roof fell in. The back part of several houses in Great Russell Street and New Street were thrown down, and the whole neighbourhood was inundated. The height of the vat which burst was twenty-two feet, and contained 3555 barrels of porter. On this vat there were twenty-two hoops, the least of which weighed seven cwt, and the largest a ton. The  explosion was supposed to be owing to one of the hoops having burst. Several other vats were injured, and nearly 9000 barrels of beer wasted: the loss amounted to £25,000, and eight persons were killed by this fatal accident.

It has already been stated that great quantities of London porter are exported. It was, however, long before malt liquor could be kept in a tropical climate; and the inhabitants of the East and West Indies are indebted to the late Mr. Kenton, for being enabled to regale themselves with London porter. This gentleman, who died worth £300,000, fifty thousand of which he saved at the Crown and Magpie public house, Whitechapel, discovered, that by leaving the bottles uncorked for a few weeks, and shipping the beer as flat as possible, it might be conveyed to the East Indies, and that during the voyage it had so completely recovered its briskness as to possess all the virtues of London genuine porter. The ale and small beer breweries, and the distilleries in London, are on a great scale, though inferior to the potter breweries.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The Whitbread Brewery on Wikipedia

Samuel Whitbread on Wikipedia

London Breweries – 1761 – Brewing of Porter






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We had a ‘dig’ around in our library on the history of the breweries of London and their origins and discovered this interesting article which we will publish in two parts – the second part is on the Royal visit which we will publish tomorrow – the article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Read other posts in the London series

 

London Breweries – 1761 – Brewing of Porter

In no article of general consumption does London maintain so great a monopoly and supremacy as in the brewing of porter, which is not only forwarded to the most remote parts of the kingdom, but exported to our colonies – to the United States of America, and to many of the Continental States. Without inquiring whether the cervisia of the Romans, or the ale of the Egyptians, was a fermented liquor made from malt and hops, of which we have much doubt, it is sufficient to know, that malt liquor has, from time immemorial, been a favourite beverage with the inhabitants of London.

So early as the reign of Elizabeth the consumption of beer must have been very considerable, for in 1580 Sir Thomas Gorges, in applying for the office of gauger, stated to Lord Treasurer Burleigh that “there was a deceit to the buyer of beer and ale, both in the assize of the vessels, and in the not filling them up; and that the buyers taken altogether were deceived hereby £30,000 a year.”

There is also other evidence of the quantity of beer brewed in London, in a calculation made in the year 1585, by order of Lord Burleigh. It appears from this account, that there were at that time twenty-six brewers in the metropolis, of whom one half were stated to be foreigners. They generally brewed six times a week, and the whole quantity brewed in London, in one year, in small and strong beer, was 648,960 barrels. This is certainly a large quantity for so thin a population as London then contained, but it is to be considered that ale and beer were at this time, and long afterwards, the common beverage for breakfast, and that it was frequently exported in such quantities as to induce the queen to prohibit the exportation, lest it should enhance the price of corn.

It appears, from a writer of that period, that the brown jug with silver cover, so common in respectable houses in the country, was then a favourite in town. Speaking of the Londoners he says, they drink their ale “not out of glasses, but from earthen pots, with silver bandies and covers; and this even in houses of middling fortune, for as to the poor, the covers of their pots are only pewter.”

Before we quit the “olden time,” we may observe that the charge of adulteration, now so frequently made, was urged against the brewers of the sixteenth century, who are said to have put “darnel, rosin, lime, and chalk, into the ale or beer, which making the drinkers thirsty, they might drink the more;” and that when hops were dear, “they put into their drink broom, bay-berries, ivy-berries, and such-like things.” It is due, however, to the brewers to say, that these charges were never verified by the, surveyors.

Although the excise duties, and the general introduction of tea and coffee, as a substitute for malt liquor at breakfast, must have operated for some time as a draw-back on the consumption, yet it seems lately to have received a new impulse. In 1761 the quantity of porter made in London, by 52 brewers, was only 975,217 barrels, of 36 gallons each; now a single firm, that of Barclay and Co., brews upwards of 330,000 barrels in a year; and the quantity made by the twelve principal breweries has amounted, in one year, to the astonishing number of 1,500,000 barrels. What proportion of this quantity is consumed in London it would be difficult to ascertain.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The Whitbread Brewery on Wikipedia 

Samuel Whitbread on Wikipedia

The Curtain Theatre – London – 1577

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Following a BBC news article on the discovery of the remains of the Curtain Theatre we had a ‘dig’ around in our library and unearthed the excerpt below; from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

The Curtain Theatre London – 1577

If the Globe was rendered memorable by Shakespeare’s connection with it, the Curtain Theatre near Shoreditch, the name of which is preserved in the Curtain-road, had a similar distinction, by its being the place where “rare Ben Jonson” acted, before he obtained celebrity as an author; yet the Curtain Theatre never appears to have flourished, although it had, as an actor, Dick Tarlton, one of the best comedians of the time of Elizabeth. Aubrey, who wrote in [1678], nearly a century after the theatre was probably erected, notices it as “a kind of nursery or obscure playhouse, called the ‘Green Curtain’ situate in the suburbs towards Shoreditch.” Although there is no positive evidence of the fact, it is by no means improbable conjecture, that the Curtain Theatre took its name from its being the first to adopt that necessary appendage of the stage.

The Red Bull, St. John’s Street, Clerkenwell, was another of our early theatres, where the poor players, when suppressed by the puritans, sometimes assembled, during Christmas and Bartholomew fair, on the summons of Alexander Goffe, the woman actor (for ladies had not been yet introduced on the stage), at Blackfriars. They were, however, frequently disturbed and imprisoned. The Red Bull appears to have been of an inferior rank to the Globe and Blackfriars theatres; for, in a poem addressed to Sir William D’Avenant, in 1633, it is described as that

“degenerate stage

Where none of the untun’d kennel can rehearse

A line of serious sense.”

In the reign of Charles I. there were six playhouses allowed in town, says old Downes, the prompter to Sir W. D’Avenant’s company, which he enumerates as “the Blackfriars company, his majesty’s servants; the Bull; one in Salisbury-court; another, called the Fortune; another, at the Globe; and a sixth, at the Cock-pit, Drury-lane; all of which continued acting till the beginning of the civil wars.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

BBC News article on the discovery of the remains of the Curtain Theatre

Rivington Pike – Bolton – 1588

 

 

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Continuing our series on the History of Bolton – an ancient manufacturing town famed as the original seat of the cotton trade. Here we cover the historic site of Rivington Pike –  which was a signalling post used to warn the Spanish Armada was heading towards the English coast.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Rivington Pike – Bolton – 1588

Rivington ChurchBut Rivington and its vicinity have other associations to claim attention not less interesting than the fading memories of the extinct Wiiloughbys. The tower-crowned summit of the Pike, rising to the height of 1,545 feet above the sea level, calls to remembrance the stirring times of the Armada, and the scarcely less anxious days of nearly a century ago when our grandfathers were in daily dread of invasion, and constant watch was kept in order that the beacon fire might flash the signal of danger from hill to hill should their fears be realised; and the “Two-lads,” a double pile of stones on the further side, has its tale of disaster to beguile the time if we care to listen to it.  Those bleak mountain ridges that stretch away towards the south were once included within the limits of the great forest of Horwich, “a place of great sport,” as the old chroniclers have it, with its series of eagles, of hawks, and of herons.

Rivington was for centuries the home of the Pilkingtons, “gentlemen of repute in their shire before the Conquest,” as old Fuller tells us; if tradition is to be relied on, the chief of them bore himself bravely upon the red field of Hastings, and when sought for by the victors for espousing the cause of the defeated Harold, to avoid discovery, disguised himself as a mower, in commemoration of which circumstance his descendants have ever since borne the man and scythe for their crest.

A scion of this ancient house, Richard Pilkington, in the days of the Eighth Harry or shortly after, founded the church of Rivington, and his son, James Pilkington, who had suffered exile for the reformed faith in the time of the Marian persecutions, was nominated by Queen Elizabeth first Protestant bishop of the palatinate see of Durham, and was also founder of the Grammar School at Rivington, an institution that to this day perpetuates his name.

Excerpt from Historic Sites of Lancashire and Cheshire by James Croston published in 1883

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Further Reading and External Links

About Rivington

The Falkland Islands Discovery – 1502

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We’ve delved into the Ultrapedia archives to see what history holds on the discovery of the Falkland Islands; there are many conflicting and biased reports.  Here we feature an excerpt from The Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review Volume 6 published in 1842 – reporting the islands were first discovered in 1502  by the Italian explorer Americus Vespucius while in the service of Portugal.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

The Falkland Islands Discovery – 1502

The merit of discovering these islands has been claimed by the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Dutch, and the French. Americus Vespucius, in the journal of his voyage through the South Atlantic Ocean, made in 1502, while he was in the service of Portugal, says that he saw a rugged and uncultivated land beyond the 52d degree of south latitude; but under what meridian it is impossible to learn. The Spaniards assert that the islands were found by their earliest navigators in those seas, who called them, Islas de Leones; no direct proof of this assertion has been adduced, but it seems scarcely possible that they could have remained unseen by the people of that nation, during a whole century, in which so many of their squadrons were engaged in exploring the adjacent seas and coasts.

The first notice of the existence of the islands which can be considered as distinct, is contained in the account of the voyage of John Davis, the commander of one of the vessels in the English squadron sent to the Pacific under Cavendish in 1591, written by John Lane, one of the crew, and published at London by Hakluyt in 1600. The writer there states, that after in vain attempting to enter Magellan’s Straits, they were on the 14th of August, [1592]

“driven in among certain isles never before discovered by any known relation, lying fifty leagues or better from the shore, east and northerly from the straits”

This description, though short, is sufficient to establish the fact, that Davis did, in [1592], see some of the northwesternmost of the Falkland Islands; and upon the evidence thus afforded, Great Britain founds her claim to the sovereignty of the whole archipelago.

The same islands were also no doubt seen, two years afterward, by the celebrated Sir Richard Hawkins; in the narrative of whose voyage, by John Ellis, it is stated that:

“on the 2nd of February, 1593-4, we fell in with the land of Terra Australis, in 50 degrees, 55 leagues off the straits of Magellan, east-northeast from the straits”

Sir Richard, believing himself to be the first who had seen this territory, gave to it the name of Hawkins Maiden-land; “for” as he says, “that it was discovered in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, my Sovereign Lady, and a maiden Queen, and at my cost, in perpetual memory of her chastity, and of my endeavours.”  

This name, however, did not obtain general currency; and the islands were not destined to serve as monuments commemorating the chastity of Queen Elizabeth, or the perseverance and liberality of the dauntless searover.

The last navigator, by whom the discovery of these islands was supposed to have been made, was Sebaldus or Sibbald Van Weerdt, the commander of one of the five Dutch ships sent to the Pacific from Rotterdam in [1599], under Jacob Mahu. Having been foiled in his attempt to pass Magellans Strait, Van Weerdt resolved to return to Europe; and on his way back, two days after leaving that passage, he fell in with three small islands, in the latitude of 50 degrees 40 minutes, distant sixty leagues from the South American continent; which were, in all probability, the same seen by Davis and Hawkins. The Dutch, in consequence, gave the name of Sebaldine Islands to the whole archipelago; which is so called on many English maps, published in the last century, while in others it appears as the Sibble d’Wards Islands.

Excerpt from The Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review Volume 6 published in 1842

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Further Reading and External Links

BBC News Magazine on the Falkland Islands 

World Atlas Falkland Islands Facts 

Americus Vespucius

Falkland Islands Discovery – 1594

 

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With the Falkland Island a newsworthy topic once more we’ve delved into the Ultrapedia archives to see what history holds.  Below is an excerpt from the book History of the British Colonies by Robert Montgomery Martin published in 1835 claiming they were first discovered in 1594 by Sir Richard Hawkins.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

The Falkland Islands Discovery – 1594

THE Falkland islands, between the parallels of 51.10. and 52.30.S and the meridians 58. and 62. W. (contiguous to the Straits of Magellan,) so advantageously situated as a refreshing port for our numerous ships doubling Cape Horn, and as a cruising station for our ships of war in the Pacific, were first discovered by Sir Richard Hawkins during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in the year 1594, or as some think, by Captain Davis, in 1592, an English navigator under Sir Thomas Cavendish; they were subsequently visited by a ship belonging to St. Maloes, from which they were called by the French, ‘the Malouins’ and also subsequently, by the Spaniards, ‘the Malvinas.’ Little, however, was known of them until Commodore Byron, when on a voyage of discovery to the South Seas, visited them in January, [1765], and formally took possession of them for his Majesty Geo. III. under the title of ‘the Falkland Islands,’ though others say this name had been previously given them by an English navigator named Strong, in 1689, who, after being there about fourteen days, described Egmont, on the N.W. coast of the largest island, as being the finest harbour in the world, capacious enough to hold all the navy of England in full security. Geese, ducks, snipes, and other fowl were found in such abundance, that the sailors were quite tired with eating them; and in every part there was a plentiful supply of water.

When the French lost the Canadas, a colony of farmers was transported thither by M. de Bougainville, and about the same time a British colony was established at Port Egmont by Captain McBride; but their right to settle there being disputed by the Spaniards, M. de Bougainville surrendered the possession of his part to the latter in April, [1767].

Great Britain, however, by virtue of her original discovery, claimed the sovereignty, which led to a rupture with Spain in the year [1770], and the point was warmly and strongly contested for a considerable period.

Spain, however, finally conceded our right to the islands. The two largest of the islands are about 70 leagues in circumference, and divided by a channel 12 leagues in length, and from 1 to 3 in breadth. The harbours are large, and well defended by small islands, most happily disposed. The smallest vessels may ride in safety; fresh water is easily to be obtained; there is seldom any thunder or lightning, nor is the weather hot or cold to any extraordinary degree. throughout the year, the nights are in general serene and fair; and, upon the whole, the climate is favourable to the constitution. The depth of the soil in the vallies is more than sufficient for the purpose of ploughing.

Since, [1767], they fell into comparative insignificance; and, for many years past, little notice has been taken of them by our government. Ships of war, on their passage round Cape Horn, have occasionally touched there for supplies of water, etc. and South Sea whalers and other merchant vessels; but the navigation being little known, they have not, until lately, been much frequented, although very nearly in the track of ships homeward-bound from the Pacific. Latterly, however, circumstances arose which induced the last commander-in-chief on the South American station (Sir Thomas Baker), to send down a ship of war for the purpose of reclaiming that possession, which lapse of time seemed to have rendered almost absolutely abandoned. The Buenos Ayrean Government have, however, endeavoured to set up a claim to the islands.

Excerpt from History of the British Colonies by Robert Montgomery Martin published in 1835

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Further Reading and External Links

BBC News Magazine on the Falkland Islands 

World Atlas Falkland Islands Facts