Account of Sir George Buc, Master of the Revels listing plays performed at court 1611-12

Account of Sir George Buc, Master of the Revels listing plays performed at court 1611-12

During the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I and VI, acting companies regularly performed at court. Plays were selected by a court official called the Master of the Revels.

Court seasons typically featured performances of plays in different genres and styles by a number of companies, as well as spectacular one-off entertainments known as masques. Most of the performances during this period were held at Whitehall.

You can explore extracts from the records of payments made for the Christmas and Easter seasons of 1604-5 and 1611-12. They include the names of the companies, the titles of the plays and – in the 1604-5 accounts – the names of the playwrights, including ‘Shaxberd’. This was an unusual rendering of Shakespeare’s name, but spelling was not standardised in this period.

(The National Archives: A0 3/908 part 14)

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Examination of Sir Gelly Meyrick, 1601

Examination of Sir Gelly Meyrick, 1601

On 8 February 1601 the Earl of Essex staged an uprising against the Queen in London. His supporters commissioned a performance of a play ‘of King Richard II’, in all likelihood Shakespeare’s; it was performed at the Globe theatre by the King’s men the day before the uprising.

In Shakespeare’s play, Richard’s increasingly autocratic behaviour drives his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke (the future Henry IV), to lead a rebellion, forcing Richard to renounce the throne. By choosing to request a performance of this play, supporters of Essex could have been accused of drawing parallels between the two monarchs.

The performance at the Globe was investigated by the Queen’s advisors. Here you can see the examination of Essex’s steward Sir Gelly Meyrick, believed to have been involved in organising the performance.

The rebellion failed, and both Essex and Meyrick were executed.

(The National Archives: SP 12/278)

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Examination of Augustine Phillips, 1601

Examination of Augustine Phillips, 1601

On 8 February 1601 the Earl of Essex staged an uprising against the Queen in London. His supporters commissioned a performance of a play ‘of King Richard II’, in all likelihood Shakespeare’s; it was performed at the Globe theatre by the King’s men the day before the uprising.

In Shakespeare’s play, Richard’s increasingly autocratic behaviour drives his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke (the future Henry IV), to lead a rebellion, forcing Richard to renounce the throne. By choosing to request a performance of this play, supporters of Essex could have been accused of drawing parallels between the two monarchs.

The performance at the Globe was investigated by the Queen’s advisors. Here you can see the examination of Augustine Phillips, one of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. He claimed that the players had been reluctant to perform the play, as newer works were more popular; they demanded an additional 40 shillings.

The rebellion failed, and Essex was executed. Augustine Phillips and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men escaped punishment and performed for the Queen on the eve of Essex’s execution on 25 February 1601.

(The National Archives: SP 12/278)

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Ticketing and accessibility

Ticketing

When booking exhibition tickets, you must choose a specific date and time slot for entry. If you arrive outside your 30 minute time slot, please visit the box office and talk to our staff. Although we can’t guarantee entry, we will do our best to be accommodating.

Exhibition tickets cost:

  • £10 standard
  • £8 concession (over 60; unemployed; student with NUS card; registered disabled)
  • Free (under 18; King’s staff, students and alumni; The National Archives’ staff; carer to accompany registered disabled)

If you are entitled to free tickets, you must bring the relevant ID with you.

Students will need a valid NUS card or university photo ID card. Students at King’s College London will need their King’s student ID card.

Registered disabled people should bring an award letter from the Department of Work and Pensions showing eligibility for disability benefits, a blue badge or disabled person’s bus pass.

Under 18s and over 60s should bring proof of age, which could include passport, proof of age card, Zip Oyster photocard or Freedom pass, or any other photo ID stating date of birth.

Staff from King’s or The National Archives will need to bring staff ID cards.

Unemployed people should bring an ES40/My Work Plan booklet, or a letter from the DWP dated within the last three months.

King’s alumni do not need to bring proof of ID, as we will check your details against the alumni register. Please ensure you book in your name.

Accessibility

The exhibition is wheelchair accessible. On arrival at Somerset House, enter the East Wing via the ramp into Fernandez & Wells cafe. Continue to the back of the cafe and through a set of double-doors into a corridor- the exhibition box office is ahead of you. Access to the gallery is via a lift.

One wheelchair user ticket is available for each half-hour slot to ensure safe evacuation in case of an emergency. If your group includes more than one wheelchair user, please book in consecutive timeslots and contact us to explain. We’ll endeavor to admit you together if possible.

Disabled parking can be arranged for blue badge holders. Please phone 0207 848 5960 (Mon-Fri) at least 48 hours before your visit, stating your visit time, name and number plate of the vehicle. You will be required to display your blue badge at all times.

Visitors who are registered disabled may bring one carer with them, free of charge. Please book the following: ‘Concession (reg disabled)’ + ‘Free (carer,with reg disabled)’.

– See more at: http://www.bymewilliamshakespeare.org/ticketing-and-accessibility/#sthash.IMaeKvIe.dpuf

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Shakespeare’s will

Here we take a closer look at the exhibition’s centrepiece: Shakespeare’s will, recently conserved by The National Archives.

Shakespeare died a wealthy man, survived by his wife Anne and daughters Judith and Susanna. Parts of the will may be based on a draft from 1613, but significant changes were made in the months and perhaps even weeks  before his death on 23 April 1616. The will itself is not written in Shakespeare’s hand, but it does contain three of the six surviving examples of his signature: one each at the bottom of pages 1 and 2, and one at the end, which reads ‘By me William Shakespeare’.

His financial arrangements protected his daughters, who were his heirs. Most of Shakespeare’s property, including his home New Place, was left to his elder daughter Susanna, although the will was rewritten in January 1616 to increase the provision for Judith.

His wife Anne did not need the same financial protection, as her marriage settlement – or dowry – would have protected her interests in the family property during her life. But she did receive the intriguing personal bequest of the ‘second best bed’.

The main text is concerned with the bequests of property and significant possessions, and was written in the appropriate legal language of the day. But there are also additions in darker ink, between the lines: These are Shakespeare’s personal bequests, added to the document just before he died. The presents Shakespeare gave to his family and friends – from a silver bowl to his younger daughter to money to buy memorial rings for his fellow actors – seem to reflect the recipients’ personalities and tastes, as well as Shakespeare’s relationships with them.

You can explore Shakespeare’s will below.

– See more at: http://www.bymewilliamshakespeare.org/shakespeares-will#sthash.SBqgc42U.dpuf

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