The Globe Theatre in London has been linked with Shakespeare through 400 years and three buildings. On this page we’ve picked out the top, verified facts about The Globe Theatre. Elsewhere on NoSweatShakespeare we give an overview of life at The Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s time, and paint a picture of the entertainment available at The Globe…but if you’re after interesting facts about Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, read on here!

Globe Theatre Fact 1

The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 in Southwark on the south bank of London’s River Thames by Richard Burbage.

Globe Theatre Fact 2

The timber for The Globe Theatre was actually reused wood from “The Theatre” – an earlier theatre owned by Richard Burbage’s father.

Globe Theatre Fact 3

The Globe was built as a large, round, open air theatre. There was a roof around the circumference which covered the seating area, leaving the theatre looking like a doughnut from above.

Globe Theatre Fact 4

The Globe  had three stories of seating and was able to hold up to 3,000 spectators in it’s 100 foot diameter.

Globe Theatre Fact 5

At the base of the stage was an area called “the pit” which held “the groundlings” – people who paid just a penny to stand and watch a performance.

Globe Theatre facts

The original Globe Theatre, complete with stage “apron”

Globe Theatre Fact 6

Part of the stage was called the “apron stage” – a rectangular platform that thrust out amongst the audience into the pit.

Globe Theatre Fact 7

William Shakespeare was a shareholder who owned 12.5% of The Globe Theatre. As a young writer Shakespeare bought shares in the theatre and benefited financially as his popularity grew.

Globe Theatre Fact 8

Colour coded flags were used outside the theatre to advertise the type of play to be performed – a red flag for a history play, white for a comedy play and black for a tragedy play.

Globe Theatre Fact 9

A crest above the main entrance to The Globe Theatre was inscribed with motto “Totus mundus agit histrionem” – Latin for “The whole world is a playhouse”.

Globe Theatre Fact 10

There were no actresses performing at The Globe Theatre – or any other theatre at that time. Female roles were played by young boys as theatre stages were considered too risque a place for ladies.

Globe Theatre Fact 11

The Globe Theatre burnt down in 1613 when a special effect on stage went wrong. A cannon used for a performance of Henry VIII set light to the thatched roof and the fire quickly spread, reportedly taking less than two hours to burn down completely.

Globe Theatre Fact 12

According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt when The Globe Theatre burned down – except for a man whose burning trousers were put out with a bottle of beer!

Globe Theatre Fact 13

After burning down in 1613 The Globe Theatre was rebuilt on the same spot in 1614.

Globe Theatre Fact 14

The Puritans brought an end to The Globe Theatre in 1642 with an order suppressing all stage plays. In 1644 The Globe Theatre was turned into tenement housing, ending 85 years of turbulent history.

Globe Theatre Fact 15

The Globe was generally considered to be a circular building, however when a small part of the theatre’s foundations were uncovered the late 1980’s it seems that the building was actually a polygon of 20 sides.

Globe Theatre Fact 16

In 1997 a third version and faithful reconstruction of  The Globe Theatre was built as “Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre”, close to the original site in Southwark.


What do you think of these facts on Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre? Any interesting facts we’re missing (that you can’t find on our Shakespeare facts page!)? Join in the comments below.

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