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Did Shakespeare perform in city pub?

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: June 23, 2009

  • First act: Merchant of Venice by the Festival Players.

  • Legend: The New Inn, Gloucester.

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WHEN a company of actors visit a Gloucester pub this week they could be following in some very famous footsteps.

The Festival Players will be performing an all-male version of Shakespeare's classic the Merchant of Venice in the New Inn in Northgate Street on Thursday, June 25.

But could the Bard himself, famous for plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, have acted in the same venue?

Local legend suggests Shakespeare's company of actors the Lord Chamberlain's Men did visit Gloucester during Elizabethan times, and even performed at the pub which dates back to 1430.

Historian Phil Moss from Gloucester Civic Trust remains sceptical about the claims Shakespeare visited the New Inn but said the Bard did visit Gloucester.

He said: "It is a local legend but I haven't found any evidence to prove it.

"We know his company came to Gloucester at the time Shakespeare was with them so I would think he did play in Gloucester but I don't know where.

"They used to have performances at Booth Hall which is now Shire Hall but it is possible that he performed there I suppose, although we have no proof."

The New Inn has played a key role in the history of the city. Originally an abbey for pilgrims visiting Gloucester Cathedral it became a private inn in 1539.

Then in the summer of 1553 the New Inn saw history played out on its galleries.

Edward the Sixth had died, and to try and keep the English throne in Protestant hands 17-year-old Lady Jane Grey was persuaded to become queen.

She was staying at the New Inn when the proclamation was made. The announcement of her succession was made from the New Inn gallery.

Sadly Jane's reign only lasted 17 days, before she was deposed by Mary Tudor and her supporters.

For more details about the play, which begins at 7pm visit www.the festivalplayers.co.uk

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    john h, gl4  |  June 24 2009, 8:35AM

    the place is empty, even on a saturday night. why dont they put bands on ? the ridge and furrow and the india house are the only other pubs that do.

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