Saturday, 28 January 2017

28 January, 1593 - An important letter

Today was a Sunday and so there were no performances at the Rose. But something else happened that would prove important to the theatres of London.

The Privy Council in 1604. Detail
from The Somerset House Conference
On this day, the Privy Council sent a letter to the London authorities informing them of an increase in deaths from plague, and ordering them to close all London's theatres again.

The Council explained that "we think it fit that all manner of concourse and public meetings of the people at plays, bear-baitings, bowlings and other like assemblies for sports be forbidden" and instructed the authorities to effect this "both by proclamation to be published to that end, and by special watch and observation to be had at the places where the plays, bear-baitings, bowlings and like pastimes are usually frequented". Anyone found disobeying would be "apprehended and committed to prison".

Despite the urgent tone of the letter, Lord Strange's Men will continue to perform for several more days, but their time in London is coming to an end.

What's next?

There will be no blog entry tomorrow, because no performance is recorded for 29th January, even though it was a Monday. The simplest way of explaining the muddled dates in Henslowe's diary is to take note of the damaged bottom of the diary page that we are currently on and assume that Monday's performance got torn off or mouldered away. Henslowe's Diary ... as a Blog! will thus return on 30th January for a few more performances before the theatres close....

Further reading

  • Carol Chillington Rutter, Documents of the Rose Playhouse (Manchester University Press, 1984), 69-70.
  • Lawrence Manley and Sally-Beth MacLean, Lord Strange's Men and their Plays (Yale University Press, 2014), 258.

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