I know, I'm sort of shocked by that too.
Arriving at London Bridge and admiring the work that's underway to redevelop the station, which is way more developed than on my previous visits, then we headed off through as many back streets as we could towards The Globe, stopping to pause and take a photo of the Golden Hinde. I love how it's history and traditional-ness is parked (or docked if you want to be correct) amongst the modern buildings.
We arrived at The Globe, and joined the short queue to redeem our tickets. I'm terrible at queues and thankfully not only did it move quickly enough there was also plenty of artwork on the walls to entertain me. I know clowns aren't everyone's thing, but I fell in love with this photo.
Tours run every thirty minutes and we'd done well to time it right. We had a short browse around the exhibition, which was well laid out and informative, to whet our appetite and then made our way to join the tour.
The exhibition was good, but it was the forty minute tour that made our visit. Our tour guide clearly had thespian tendencies and shared the history of the theatre in the most engaging way.
He was (mock) dismayed that this tribute to arguably our greatest writer was led by an American, Sam Wanamaker and that all we'd managed to do to mark the spot of the theatre was to build a car park around a rather bland memorial stone. That means that the reconstructed theatre isn't in the true spot, but given the usefulness of the car park I'm sure having a riverfront position was really not too much of a hardship.
Throughout the tour much was made of the donors who contributed to the theatre; names were carved into paving slabs like this one and on perspex on walls and that was great to see, and for those donors to continue to be recognised some twenty years later. Yes, that's right this iteration of the Globe has been open since 1997, another fact that shocked me.
Our guide pointed out some of the traditional features, and some of the less traditional ones too. Such as these silver trees and the giant illuminated letters attached to the side of the theatre, and signifying its summer season entitled Summer of Love. Dead pan he pointed out these weren't in the original theatre. I love tours that work on all levels with facts and humour, and this was definitely one of those. Remind me to tell you the beer story later on.
Ah good, the beer story fits here. It's almost like it was planned.
It was a tour with something for everyone, even the kids. Our guide explained what it was like to be in the yard, or standing area, in the original theatre. Asking if the children on the tour had tasted, or liked beer. Of course there was a mixed response but one little lad gave him the best line, saying he couldn't remember if he liked beer, so of course the comeback was that that would happen a lot more as he got older and perhaps he might have had just a little bit too much beer.
It was the prelude to why the yard was often known for the penny stinkers. Entrance cost a penny - and even today there are 700 tickets at every performance that cost £5 - and the area was pretty full. Hygiene then wasn't what it is today, and then there was the beer too - probably safer to drink than the water - and we all know what happens after a beer, or two, or three. And well if you've got a good spot then you weren't going to give it up easily were you? I'm sure you can put all of this together!
During our tour there were sound checks going on for the afternoon's performance, but yet the tours continued and each of the guides shepherded their groups around the theatre space in an almost choreographed way, competing with the sound checks as they went.
Back outside we learnt why Michael Palin's donation stone was misspelt. The clue is in the stone on the right, on whose stipulation the spelling was given.
So a great tour and exhibition and something I'd definitely recommend. I can't believe it took me so long to get to something that was so good. I guess that's the whole not seeing things in the town you live in, we're all guilty of that aren't we?
There's plenty around on the Southbank so you can continue your entertainment, whether that's heading along to see some of the film locations for Bridget Jones diary, heading off to the Tate Modern, Gabriel's Wharf or the Southbank Centre. Or perhaps like us you'll retrace your steps and head over to Borough Market.
Despite the recent terror attack it was thriving and that was lovely to see. We stopped at El Pastor for some great tacos, again managing to time it right before a queue formed (and that hardly ever happens to me) and then into the market for a look around and a bit of shopping too.
If you're thinking about a trip to the Globe - go! - I think it'll be busy whenever you go, but there's plenty of space in the exhibition so you're not on top of everyone and numbers on tours are limited. The group was larger than I expected but not unmanageably so.
Thanks to 365 Tickets and Shakespeare's Globe for entry into the Exhibition in exchange for an honest review.