As some of you will already know, Bankside is home to one of Britain's most important ancient monuments, The Rose Theatre on Park Street. Once lost to time, The Rose is set to bloom again.
When it was erected by Philip Henslowe in 1587, the Rose was only the fifth purpose-built theatre in London, and the first on Bankside – an area already rich in other 'leisure' attractions such as brothels, gaming dens and bull or bear-baiting arenas. In 1592 Henslowe began to keep a diary which gives details of his expenditure on the theatre building, the plays staged there, the audiences and even of props and costumes. This diary survives and paints a vivid picture of life and business in Bankside over four centuries ago. Shakespeare himself worked at the Rose and some of his plays were first performed there. (For a version of this story see the film Shakespeare in Love.) The Rose was a hothouse of British cultural tradition whose influence has spanned the centuries.
The Rose’s success soon encouraged other theatres to be built on Bankside, including the famous Globe in 1599. These rivals swiftly overtook the Rose and by 1606 it had been abandoned. The remains of the Rose were discovered in 1989 during routine archaeological excavations between the demolition of the old building above the site and the construction of the present day Rose Court. The campaign to ‘Save the Rose’ and protect it from redevelopment was launched. Around two thirds of the Rose was excavated and finds included jewellery, coins, tokens and even fragments of the moneyboxes used to collect entrance money from the audience. The historic Rose site is currently open to visitors each Saturday and also stages acclaimed evening performances for most of the year.
The Rose Theatre Trust are preparing to make a funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to excavate the rest of the Rose, ensure its long term survival and then create a heritage attraction incorporating this Scheduled Ancient Monument. The Rose will become an archaeological visitor attraction and culturally unique performance venue incorporating an Ancient Monument of world significance.
The Trustees are very keen to get the views of the people of today's Bankside and give them the chance to share to in helping preserve Bankside's past. Anyone who lives or works in Bankside is invited to do this online survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BSZ992F and help shape the visitor experience at what will become a world-famous heritage attraction right on their doorstep.