London Finds the Remains of Shakespeare’s First Theatre Right Where They Left Them: Underneath London

In America, if we come across a site of historical significance, we memorialize it by transforming it into an outdoor living history space where the past comes alive or erecting a statue of Sylvester Stallone on the premises.

In England, where, evidently, William Shakespeare's First Theatres just grow on trees, they don't give a damn about this kind of thing. They go ahead and build new office, retail and residential spaces right over them.

Luckily, life is full of second chances and now that the site of William Shakespeare's first theatre has been unearthed in London, they're definitely not going to take it for granted until they decide to build over it again.

Archaeologists from the Museum of London say that have uncovered part of the yard and gallery walls of The Curtain Theatre in London's Shoreditch district, on the site of a former pub.

The Curtain opened in 1577 and was the venue used by Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, from 1597 to 1599, while construction on the famous Globe Theatre was being completed on the other side of the Thames.

It's believed that The Curtain was home to the first performances of Henry V (whose prologue describes the venue as a "Woodden [sic] O") and possibly also Romeo & Juliet.

The Telegraph explains that the theatre was dismantled in the 17th century, at which point historians simply lost track of its location, as you might a spare house key or the small piece of paper you were just holding.

The really juicy story, though, is why Shakespeare and his company ended up at The Curtain (and subsequently moved) in the first place.

According to legend, Shakespeare's troupe moved to the theatre following a dispute with Giles Allen, the landlord of their previous venue, called simply "The Theatre," in which he refused to renew the group's lease. One night, while Allen was visiting the country, the venue's owner, actor James Burbage, stole over to the site and, with the help of some accomplices, dismantled the building piece by piece. The timber was stored in a nearby carpenter's yard until the spring, when the same wood was used to build the Globe Theatre on the other side of the river.

The Museum of London notes that, so far, the remains of The Curtain appear to be in excellent condition.

The development company that owns the land on which they sit reportedly plans to feature them as part of the new "office, retail, and residential space" it is constructing on site.

Hopefully by now someone has remembered to write down the exact location of the theatre and email it to him or herself.

[Telegraph // Bardweb.net // Image via AP]