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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

§ 8. Places of performance

When Elizabeth came to the throne, the usual places of public theatrical performance in London were certain innyards. An account written in 1628 enumerates five of these yards, where plays were publicly performed: one in Gracechurch street (the Bell), one in Bishopsgate street (the Bull), one on Ludgate Hill (the Bell Savage), one in Whitefriars and one “nigh Paul’s.” Plays were also performed at an inn in Blackfriars, and at the Cross Keys in Gracechurch street. The exact arrangement or appliances of a play in an innyard it is now impossible to establish. Whether the platform stage stood in the centre of the yard or against one end is not known; or whether a price was charged for admission, or whether the performers depended for reward on the goodwill of the audience. The galleries which surrounded the yard on three sides were, obviously, good positions for spectators, and we may imagine a crowd standing round the stage, on three, or even on all four, sides of it, in the “yard,” a name which was applied also to the ground level of the playhouses proper when these came to be built. A statement made by Flecknoe, in his Short Discourse of the English Stage (1664), that some remains of these theatres were, at that day, to be seen at the Cross Keys and the Bull, would imply, if it is to be trusted, that some kind of permanent structure was erected; but the evidence is too slight and too late in date to be made a foundation for conjecture.