Tuesday, 5 December 2017

5 December, 1593 - a visit to Caludon Castle

Welcome back! This blog is briefly reawakening before a more extended revival at the end of the month. As I'm sure you remember, our heroes, Lord Strange's Men, are currently enduring a long tour of England while London's theatres are closed. For most of their journey, we have had only a vague understanding of their itinerary, but we have now reached a rare moment at which we know exactly where they were on one specific day.

On this day, 424 years ago, Lord Strange's Men performed a play at Caludon Castle, near the city of Coventry in the Midlands. An item in Caludon's household account books for 5 December, 1593, reads "Item geven in rewarde to the Erle of Derbies players x s", that is, a 10 shilling payment. The company was now calling itself 'the Earl of Derby's Men', because their patron, Lord Strange, had acquired his father's title following the latter's recent death.

Caludon Castle was the home of Henry, Lord Berkeley. Berkeley enjoyed plays, so a visit to Caludon was common among touring companies. The 'castle' was actually more like a manor house; you can see a reconstruction of it here. Today, it survives as one ruined wall in a park in a suburb of Coventry.

What's next?

This is the last we'll see of Lord Strange's Men: at some point around the date of this performance, the company seems to have broken up, its various members dispersing to other companies. When we return on 26 December, we'll be back to Henslowe's Diary and its list of performances, but this time a different company will occupy the Rose playhouse, and will perform plays that we haven't encountered yet. See you then!

Further information

  • Peter H. Greenfield, "Entertainments of Henry, Lord Berkeley, 1593-4 and 1600-5", in REED Newsletter 8.1 (1983), 12-24.
  • Sally-Beth MacLean and Lawrence Manley, Lord Strange's Men and their Plays (Yale University Press, 2014), 278.


Did I make a mistake? Do you have a question? Have you anything to add? Please post a comment below!

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