Boar's Head sign from the Bard's boozer unveiled at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

By Culture24 Staff | 07 June 2010
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a photo of a stone carved boar's head

(Above) © Museum of London

The sign from one of England's most famous pubs and a last link with the lost world of Shakespeare has gone on show at the Globe Theatre in London.

Arguably the most famous tavern in English literary history, the Boar's Head on Eastcheap is recognised as the setting for Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, as well as being the watering hole of one of Shakespeare's most famous and much-loved characters, Sir John Falstaff.

The iconic stone carving has been loaned to the Globe by the Museum of London, arriving at its spiritual home on Bankside in time for Dominic Dromgoole's productions of Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. It was unveiled last week by actor Roger Allam, who plays Falstaff in the productions.

The original Boar's Head Tavern was built before 1537, but was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666. It was soon rebuilt in brick with a carved stone bas-relief of a boar's head set above its first-floor windows.

a photo of a bearded man next to a stone carving of a boar's head in a glass case

Roger Allam, who plays Falstaff in the Globe's production of Henry IV, unveils the 1668 Boar's Head Tavern sign

In the absence of Elizabethan and Jacobean playhouses such as the Globe, which was pulled down in 1644, the tavern became a site of pilgrimage in London for people wishing to pay homage to Shakespeare, until the late 18th century.

Demolished in 1831 when the area was redeveloped in preparation for the rebuilding of London Bridge, all that now remains of the iconic boozer is the sign, which up until now has not been seen in public for more than 180 years.

"The acquisition of the Boar['s Head Tavern stone carving is fascinating, educationally valuable and in-keeping with the themes of our 2010 theatre season," said Dromgoole.

"The Globe receives more than 700,000 visitors each year, and we hope this display will be an engaging insight into the reality of Shakespeare's London and the imaginative creations in his work."

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