The Hope Playhouse

The Hope Theatre was built between 1613 and 1614 by Philip Henslowe and Jacob Meade on the site of the old Beargarden. As the Agas Map was printed to early to show the Hope I have marked its location at the old Beargarden, which is clearly displayed. The building contract of the Hope specified that it be the same size as the neighbouring Swan Playhouse, which is the subject of the above sketch (Chalfant, 98). The Hope’s performance space continued to be shared between the acting companies and the bear baiting: “plays were acted on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; bears were the main attraction on the other weekdays” (Chalfant, 98).

Bartholomew Fair

Bartholomew Fair was first performed at the Hope Theatre on 31 October 1614 for “the kind of public audience attracted to a playing venue specially constructed for the alternation of plays and bear-baiting” (Gossett, 2).The Scrivener’s closing remark in the Induction to the bad odour of the Hope presumably rang true for an audience sitting in a space usually occupied by fighting bears and dogs. The Induction to the play, narrated in part by a crotchety old Stage-Keeper, was written specifically for this performance at the Hope, and makes several derogatory references to both it and its audience. In the mock-contract that Jonson makes with his audience he specifies that each member is only allowed to critique the play according to the amount that he has paid for his seat. This contract may have been partially in earnest if the audiences at the Hope were known to be particularly boisterous.


Book-Holder: “Your judgement, rascal? For what? Sweeping the stage? Or gathering up the broken apples for the bears within? (Induction.51-52)

Scrivener: “Articles of Agreement, indented, between the spectators or hearers at the Hope on the Bankside, in the county of Surrey, on the one party, and the author of Bartholomew Fair in the said place and county, on the other party, the one-and-thirtieth day of October 1614” (Induction.65-69)

Scrivener: “agree to remain in the places their money or friends have put them in, with patience, for the space of two hours and a half, and somewhat more” (Induction.79-81)

Scrivener: “it is further agreed that every person here have his or their free will of censure, to like or dislike at their own charge, the author having now departed with his right. It should be lawful for any man to judge his six pen’orth, his twelve pen’orth, so to his eighteen pence, two shillings, half a crown, to the value of his place, provided always his place get not above his wit” (Induction.87-93)

Scrivener: “though the Fair be not kept in the same region that some here, perhaps, would have it, yet think that therein the author hath observed a special decorum, the place being as dirty as Smithfield and as stinking every whit” (Induction 159-163)