London’s oldest theater in White Chapel has been discovered by archeologists

An Elizabethan playhouse constructed in the mid 16th century has been found in White Chapel, London. Archaeologists believe that it is London’s oldest theater called the “Red Lion.” The Red Lion was constructed on the property of a drinking establishment in 1567. Its first play was on the Story of Samson, a man with superhuman strength.

During the Tudor times, theaters were considered unholy by the Puritans, so to avoid religious conflict, theaters were built on the outskirts of the city. Puritans considered people who went to theaters as the “worst sort of evil and disordered people” and believed they were wasting their time. None of the plays at the theater have been printed because London’s holding printing guild refused to print the plays due to religious contradictions.

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This late 17th-century mug with a Royalist medallion of Charles II was found at the site. | Image: Archaeology South-East/UCL via CNN

Several artifacts have been found, such as drinking vessels, coins, and money boxes used to collect entry fees. Owners used the money boxes to store cash and then broke them open to collect the money. This method prevented employees from stealing from the money boxes.

John Brayne, the founder of the Red Lion, proposed to build the playhouse on a farmer’s land, near an inn and a farm. Nine years later, Brayne abandoned the site and built a new playhouse in Shoreditch with his brother-in-law, using the Red Lion as a prototype. Soon, Brayne was stripped of his share in the new theater and eventually became bankrupt. Archaeologists have also found the bones of many dogs, which may have meant that the building was used for dog fighting after John Brayne abandoned it.

Source: Independent

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