National Geographic : 1964 May
He often saw the Tower of London 6; he men tions it more than 50 times. Passing the time at the Guildhall 7, he found it a place to "look for the news," as he wrote in Richard III. Shakespeare surely visited bookstalls in the courtyard of St. Paul's 8 (predecessor of Sir Christopher Wren's Globe and other public playhouses, the Black friars was completely roofed, and plays were given there at night by candlelight. While we were searching the area for relics of Shakespeare's time, a lorry driver pulled up. "Show you something over 700 years old," he volunteered. "Very 'istoric spot this 'ere is. Nice plays they used to have right 'ere where you are standin'-very elevatin'. And before you go, you ought to see Apothecaries' Hall, just around the corner there." At that moment the butcher from the shop next door came out to join in the conversa tion. "You are talking to Old Mr. Antiquity himself," he commented. We thanked Mr. Antiquity and offered him a half crown in token of our appreciation of his help. "Certainly not," he said, rejecting the coin. "I was in the army with 3,000 Yanks. Always glad to help one of you." FARTHER along Carter Lane toward St. Paul's we found the site of the Bell Tavern, with a plaque showing that Richard Quiney had written a letter to his good friend William Shakespeare from the Bell. Quiney wanted to borrow £30 to cover losses in a fire at home in Stratford. Shake speare must have been quick to respond, for (OURISY GUILDHALL LIBRARY cathedral), where copies of his plays were sold. And he wrote of Baynard's Castle 9, Richard III's London residence before he seized the throne. Of these places, only the Tower of London, the Guild hall (bombed during World War II but restored), and Southwark Cathedral survive. on the same day Quiney wrote home to say that his "countryman" had promised the money. Quiney's note is the only bit that remains of Shakespearean correspondence. Some of Shakespeare's merriest meetings with his cronies took place in the Mermaid Tavern, which once was somewhere between Bread and Friday Streets, off Cheapside, but the spot eludes a modern visitor. The site of the old Boar's Head, where Sir John Falstaff reveled with Prince Hal, is equally hard to locate. Nothing remains, of course, of the ancient pub, which stood not far from the Monument, the tall column designed by Wren to commemorate the Great Fire. The Southwark side of the Thames, op posite the old City, has many associations with the players of Elizabeth's time. There in 1599 Cuthbert and Richard Burbage and their associates built the famous Globe play house, and there Londoners were accustomed to come for pleasure, gaiety, frivolity, and even less respectable amusements. The bear- and bull-baiting rings were in this neighborhood, and in time play producers built theaters there to be out of reach of the censorious city authorities, who could not bear to think of their apprentices wasting their time in riotous entertainment.