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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VI. The Drama to 1642, Part Two.

X. The Elizabethan Theatre

§ 12. The Rose

Philip Henslowe, by trade a dyer, and an acute man of business interested in undertakings of various kinds, leased an estate in the Clink liberty, Southwark, in 1585, and, in 1587, was contemplating the building upon it of a playhouse, of which, if it was built at all, we hear nothing till some years later. In his diary or book of accounts, which is one of the chief authorities for the dramatic history of the period, he is found in February, 1592, sharing the receipts of lord Strange’s men—nothing being said of the playhouse at which they were acting. Another entry (in a book which must be admitted to be one of the most confused account-books ever kept, besides having suffered from neglect and unscrupulous treatment) is a statement of the money he spent “a bowte my playe howsse” (the Rose) “in the yeare of or lord 1592.” Nothing is said in the account about repairs, and it bears all the marks of a building account; while Henslowe’s want of regularity in following the Marian or the popular system of dating by the year—or, indeed, any system at all—makes the confusion still greater. It seems pretty certain, however, that 1592 here means 1592; that the account is not for building, but for extensive repairs amounting almost to rebuilding; and that the work was completed in the early part of the year, in time for lord Strange’s men to occupy the house in February. This implies that the playhouse contemplated in 1587 had been built and, therefore, used. In June, 1594, the Rose on the Bankside in Southwark was the playhouse of the Admiral’s company, with Edward Alleyn at its head. Alleyn “left playing” in 1597; and, in 1598, the Chamberlain’s company moved across the water from the Curtain, and built the Globe. The prosperity of the Rose began to decline, perhaps through unequal competition. By 1600, it had fallen into a bad state of repair, and its situation was considered inconvenient in winter. When the Admiral’s company moved to the Fortune, in 1600, other companies occasionally occupied the Rose till 1603. After the accession of James I, it was used sometimes for sports. The Rose was built mainly of timber, lath and plaster, though entries in Henslowe’s accounts for bricks and bricklaying seem to imply a brick foundation for the wooden walls. The stage was painted; there was a tirehouse, or actors’ dressing-room, behind it, with a room over it, and a flagstaff.