Route & what ro see
The Dissolution of the monasteries made buildings available for indoor playhouses but restrictions impossed meant that these usually operated as private theatres, not for the general public. This walk takes in a number of theatrical sites but with the closure of the Mermaid the only functioning theatre is the Bridewell, which was built as a swimming pool and laundry. Places for refreshment are mainly along & just off the Strand and Fleet Street. There are benches in the Temple and at St Brides.
A walk of 1½ miles from Blackfriars Station (Circle & District + mainline) to Temple Station (closed Sundays). NOTE: Access to the Temple is restricted at weekends (see route directions).
From Blackfriars mainline
station concourse follow the exit signs to Mermaid Theatre (along
walkway & down steps).
From Blackfriars underground station go up to the main concourse and follow the exit signs to Mermaid Theatre (along walkway & down steps)
The Mermaid is now a conference centre but operated as a theatre 1959-1983. It was a Victorian warehouse, bombed in WW II.
Cross Queen Victoria Street
into St Andrew's Hill. Go left along Ireland Yard and Playhouse
Shakespeare purchased a house in what had been the gatehouse of Blackfriars monastery in 1613. Playhouse Yard recalls the site of the Blackfriars Playhouse
Go right along Blackfriars
Lane, Ludgate Broadway and Pageantmaster's Court into Lugate Hill
and go left.
On the right, by present Limeburner Lane, was the Belle Sauvage Inn whose yard was used for play performances.
Go across Ludgate Circus
into Fleet Street and first left into Bride Lane
In the corner the former baths and laundry are home to the Bridewell Theatre. This stages lunchtime and evening performances including productions of the Tower Theatre Company.
Continue around Bride Lane
into New Bridge Street then go right and first right into
Bridewell Place. At the end go right into Tudor Street.
To your left would have been the site of the Dorset Garden Theatre built by Wren in 1671. This fronted onto the river, which would have been further back before the construction of the Victoria Embankment.
Go right along Dorset Rise
On the left just before Salisbury Square there is a plaque recording the Salisbury Court Theatre.
Continue to Fleet Street and
go left. Left along Bouverie Street then left through Magpie
Bouverie Street marks the western boundary of the Whitefriars Monastery the remains of which are preserved in a basement. The refectory became the Whitefriars Theatre.
Continue through Ashen Tree
Court and go right at Whitefriars Street. Right along Tudor
Street to enter the Temple. Go right along King's Bench Walk then
left into Church Court. Go down steps to the left into Elm Court.
Walk through this across Middle Temple Lane into Fountain Court.
To the left is Middle Temple Hall. This staged a performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in February 1602.
Weekends: Return via Crown Office Row to the Temple entrance and go right down Temple Avenue then along the Victoria Embankment to Temple (right) or Blackfriars (left) stations.
Weekdays: From Fountain Court go left through Garden Court then down steps into Temple Place. Go right to the station.
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