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Building playhouses in London

Several reasons were given by residents of the Southbank in 1614 to justify why they were against the building of playhouses in the seventeenth century, recorded here in the original House of Commons Journal. One reason was the increased risk of spreading illness, indeed many theatres and public spaces had previously closed because of the spread of plague in 1603 and 1606.

In the second extract from the House of Commons Journal from 1626, inhabitants of Blackfriars were concerned about the danger of infection and they also argued that it would be harder to dispose of their dead if there were more people going backwards and forwards from the playhouses. Additionally they argued that theatres disturbed trade, encouraged quarrels and bloodshed, caused houses to be deserted by noblemen and gentlemen, and that they were a hindrance to carrying children to church to be christened. Nevertheless, theatres including the Globe and the Blackfriars theatre remained prosperous until the nationwide closing of theatres in 1642.


House of Commons Original Journals


1 June 1614 and 28 February 1626

Catalogue number

Parliamentary Archives, HC/CL/JO/1/9 and HC/CL/JO/1/16