Welcome to Early Modern London Theatres!

Early Modern London Theatres (EMLoT) is a research database and educational resource that grew out of a collaboration between the Records of Early English Drama (REED) at the University of Toronto, the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King's College London, and the Department of English at the University of Southampton. EMLoT and its associated Learning Zone have been funded by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy (BA), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (for further details, please see see Project Information: Version 1 Team and Sponsors).


EMLoT, version 1, introduced records pertaining to the eight theatres north of the Thames: the Red Lion (1567), the Theatre (1576), the Curtain (1577), the Fortune (1600), the Red Bull (1604), the Boar's Head (1602), the Phoenix or Cockpit (1616), and Salisbury Court (1629). Version 2 of the database incorporated the theatres south of the Thames in the historic county of Surrey: Newington Butts (1570s), the Rose (1587), the Swan (1595), Globe I and II (1599, 1614), and the Hope (1614), as well as the bearbaiting arena(s) in the same area. EMLoT, version 3, comprehends the theatres located within the bounds of the city of London: St Paul's I and II (1575, 1599), the Bel Savage Inn (1575), the Bell Inn (1576), Blackfriars I and II (1576, 1596), the Bull Inn (1578), the Cross Keys Inn (1578), Whitefriars (1609), Porter's Hall (1613), as well as several other smaller and occasional venues scattered across the city. The records of Blackfriars I and II, the Whitefriars, and Porter's Hall are now available; editorial work on the remaining v.3 theatres is still in progress.


EMLoT lets you see what direct use has been made, over the last four centuries, of pre-1642 documents related to professional performance in purpose-built theatres and other permanent structures in the London area. It is not a comprehensive collection of those pre-1642 documents; rather, it charts the copies (or ‘transcriptions’) which were subsequently made of them. It thus gives you access to the varied and long ‘after-life’ of those documents. It tells you who used them, and when, and where you can find evidence of that use. It also gives you some access to what was used, because it includes a brief account (or ‘abstract’) of the transcription’s contents, together with a reference to the location of the original document.


This database does not include play texts, and if your main interest is in the pre-1642 evidence for actual performances, ceremonies, and the playing of secular music in London, you should go first to the London, Middlesex and Surrey collections of the REED series. They are currently being edited — Ecclesiastical London (2008), the Inns of Court (2010), and Civic London to 1558 (2015) are published — and, when they are completed, will be made available online, ultimately being interoperable with this site.


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Banner image: Frontispiece to Robert Dodsley's A Select Collection of Old Plays (1744). Image courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.