Category:Red Lion

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Ownership and Design

The Red Lion playhouse was built in 1567 in Stepney, a parish to the east of London at Mile End. By June of 1567, John Brayne, who would later provide financial backing to James Burbage (his brother-in-law) for building the Theater in Shoreditch, had hired a carpenter named William Sylvester to build galleries and another carpenter named John Reynolds to build a stage and a turret for a playing venue in the yard of a farmhouse called the Red Lion (not an inn).

Brayne complained to the wardens of the Carpenters' Company on 15 July 1567 that Sylvester's work was unsatisfactory; the wardens decided that 4 of their number be sent to inspect the construction in 4 days (19 July) and Brayne was to pay Sylvester the £8.10s owed at that time. Because no further mention of the business occurs in the court minutes, scholars deduce that Sylvester's work was deemed satisfactory and Brayne paid his wages. In the course of adjudicating this case, the wardens said that Brayne was to pay Sylvester his money "after the playe ... called the storye of Sampson" had been performed (Berry 146).

Eighteen months later (Jan-Feb 1569), Brayne sued Reynolds in the Court of King's Bench for "the amount of a performance bond he had extracted from Reynolds, twenty marks (£13.6s.8d.), plus £20 in damages" (Berry 134). Reynolds responded with a claim that he had finished the work ahead of time, and the summary provided by the court contains extensive information about the design of the playhouse. Because no further action has been located in the Elizabethan court system, scholars deduce that the matter was settled out of court.

The King's Bench summary gives the dimensions of the stage (5' off the ground, 40' wide x 30' deep), with a turret reaching 25' up from the stage. The turret might have sat over an open space (trap) and it had a floored room in its top 7'. See Berry, below, for a thorough discussion of the architectural design.

Ingram considers the likelihood of James Burbage's having had some connection with the Red Lion and consequently also his company at the time, Leicester's players (111-12). Berry, deducing that Brayne got one more year of business out of the Red Lion after 1567, determines that the Red Lion was "abandoned ... by the fall of 1568" (144).


Berry, Herbert. "The First Public Playhouses, Especially the Red Lion," Shakespeare Quarterly 40.2 (1989): 133-48.
Ingram, William. The Business of Playing. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992.

NB. This page is a work in progress; rather than attempting to represent a complete list of plays staged at the Red Lion, this page will continually be updated as new entries are created for Red Lion plays.

Pages in category "Red Lion"

This category contains only the following page.