St George’s Guildhall is Britain’s oldest working theatre, dating back to 1445. When the theater was recently renovated, a wooden floor was discovered under the current floor of the auditorium. The tree dates back to the 15th century, and the theater says William Shakespeare performed at the theater in 1592 or 1593.
At the time, theater companies were leaving London as the capital’s theaters were closed due to the plague. The Earl of Pembroke’s Men, of which Shakespeare is believed to have been a member, later visited King’s Lynn.
– We have a city account book from 1592-1593 which shows that the city paid Shakespeare’s company to come and perform, Tim FitzHigham, the theatre’s creative director, tells the BBC.
Insured for 75 years
When the new floor was laid in the theatre, the floor found had been closed for 75 years. Dr. Jonathan Clarke, an expert on historic buildings, was brought in to inspect the building.
– We wanted to open up a small area to see if there was anything left from the past. Check out what we found! he says, according to the BBC.
The site was dated by examining tree ring dating and the unusual assembly method of the floor. The site was probably erected between 1417 and 1430.
– We know that these were certainly here in 1592, and we believe that Shakespeare then performed in King’s Lynn, so this is the surface where Shakespeare walked, says Jonathan Clarke, and continues:
– This part of the arena was where the performances took place.
Shakespeare’s existence debated again
The discovery is not only the largest 15th-century wooden stage in Britain, but also the only surviving stage where the British poet performed, if it is true that Shakespeare was there in 1592-1593.
Whether or not Shakespeare was on the stage at King’s Lynn is hotly debated. According to Tiffany Stern, a professor who focuses on William Shakespeare and early modern drama, it is “very likely” that he was a member of the Earl of Pembroke’s men.
– The evidence that he was there needs to be pieced together, but very strong, he tells the BBC.
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