Life in Early Modern Southwark: Stories of Edward Alleyn, Philip Henslowe and their World

Heritage Talk
  • Venue

    Southwark Cathedral library

  • Time

    10:00 AM

  • Price


  • Book Tickets

We are delighted to be holding a day of talks celebrating some of the history associated with St Saviours, the church now known as Southwark Cathedral.

Discover the lives of Philip Henslowe, manager of the Rose Theatre, and Edward Alleyn, famous actor and founder of Dulwich College which celebrates 400 years this year. We will also explore the school set up by parisioners of St Saviours church.

Edward Alleyn on Bankside - A Talk by Calista Lucy

Edward Alleyn and Bankside – Dulwich College manuscript IX is a diary or account book kept by Edward Alleyn between 1617-1622. It is full of the most fascinating, if cryptic, detail of his life in the early years of his Foundation at Dulwich. Together with other manuscripts and muniments held in the Archive at Dulwich College this talk will paint a picture of this man who would have been well known on Bankside.

Calista M. Lucy, MCILIP, Keeper of the Archive at Dulwich College, started her working life at the London Library, followed by 13 years as Information Co-ordinator in various parts of the Esso/Exxon operation in the UK. Since 2001 she has worked at Dulwich College ( She became Keeper of the Archive in 2006. She co-ordinates loans from the collection, curates exhibitions and teaches using the resources of the Archive. She gives guided tours on the history and architecture of the College specialising in presentations to primary schools on the life and voyages of exploration of Ernest Shackleton. She regularly talks on the life and times of Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn.

The Southwark Grammar Schools of St. Saviour and St. Olave: The Early Years - A talk by Alan H Nelson

Two of Southwark's parishes founded grammar schools in the early years of Elizabeth I: St. Saviour's and St. Olave's. Starting with a brief overview of the two foundations, Professor Nelson will discuss newly-discovered episodes from the early histories of both schools, including their Elizabethan charters, and will comment on a "missing" book of orders.

Alan H. Nelson is Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is author of Monstrous Adversary: The Life of Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford (Liverpool University Press, 2003). He is editor or co-editor of three multi-volume collections in the Records of Early English Drama series: Cambridge (1989); Oxford (2004); and Inns of Court (2010). He is co-creator with William Ingram of the website 'The Parish of St Saviour, Southwark'. He has recently contributed essays to 'Shakespeare Documented', a website sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington,

The Very Theatrical Careers of Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn in Southwark - A talk by Grace Ioppolo

This talk will use the original 16th- and 17th-century documents of Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn to chart their extraordinary careers as late 16th- and early 17th-century theatre entrepreneurs, property developers and businessmen, reaching from the streets of Southwark to the courts of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Included among the documents will be the partnership deed to build the Rose Playhouse, the contract for the Fortune Playhouse, a petition from local Thames ferrymen, numerous royal patents, and records of Alleyn’s distinguished career as one of the two finest actors of the age.

Grace Ioppolo is Professor of Shakespearean and Early Modern Drama in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Her publications include Dramatists and their Manuscripts in the Age of Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton and Heywood: Authorship, Authority and the Playhouse (2006) as well as Revising Shakespeare(1991) and Shakespeare Performed: Essays in Honor of R. A. Foakes(2000). She is the Founder and Director of the Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project (, which has produced a website and electronic archive of digital images of over 2000 pages of theatrical manuscripts of Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn housed at Dulwich College, which comprise the single largest archive of theatre history papers of Shakespeare’s time. Also on the website are 15 essays from the world’s leading scholars on the most important documents in the archive, including Henslowe’s ‘Diary’ or financial account book, the theatrical ‘plot’ of the play The Seven Deadly Sins, Part 2, the agreement to build the Rose playhouse, the deed to build the Fortune playhouse, and the sole surviving ‘part’ or actor’s script of the age.

Southwark, Bankside, Henslowe, Alleyn and theatre - A Talk by Julian Bowsher

We begin with the relationship between Southwark, Surrey and the City of London – as it reflects the concentration of ‘entertainment’ on Bankside. From medieval times, the brothels probably created the poor reputation of the area – though they were closed down by Shakespeare’s time. Then there was bear baiting and finally (to cap it all) the playhouses – also considered evil. Bankside was one of London’s great theatrical centres. We shall look at the Rose (1587), the Swan (1595) the Globe (1599) and the Hope of 1613. We have heard of Henslowe and Alleyn but the likes of Marlowe, Shakespeare and Jonson as well as numerous actors, costumiers, property makers and many others involved in the theatrical ‘industry’ lived in the area. For 70 odd years Bankside was a crowded thriving, competitive community – with a pastoral care provided by this church (now cathedral).

Julian Bowsher studied Roman archaeology at London University in the late 1970s. He spent many years in the near east which included the excavation of a Roman theatre and came home in the mid 1980s and joined the Museum of London (MOLA as now). But instead of working on Roman sites he was posted to Southwark and spent the next 20 years on Tudor archaeology; playhouses in Southwark and palaces in Greenwich. Arguably, the highlight of his archaeological career was directing the excavation of the Rose and subsequent research and publication – the first ‘Shakespearean’ playhouse to be found. Finally, he gave up his trowel and left ‘field archaeology’ to his younger and healthier colleagues, to resume his early work on Roman coins. Nevertheless, he still research and write on theatrical and other subjects. IHe is an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Numismatic Society.