To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
Shakespeare Bought a London Property for £140 in 1613
The London Metropolitan Archives is the place to visit for research about London or Londoners. The current public exhibition Shakespeare and London was inspired by the Shakespeare Deed, one of only six authenticated documents signed by the man from Stratford upon Avon.
The autograph in question dates back 400 years to 10 March 1613. It is proof that one Henry Walton, a citizen of London and a minstrel, sold property to one William Shakespeare, a gentleman of Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire. The trustee signatures are shown as William Johnson, John Jackson and John Hemmyng (assumed to be the same actor and member of the King's Men who compiled the First Folio with Henry Condell). I apologise for the abysmal quality of the photo below, but the security features involve keeping the document in a plastic case and making it very difficult to photograph. Shakespeare's signature is virtually illegible, even if you can Elizabeth Secretary Hand, whereas the signatures of the trustees are much easier to make out.
The Shakespeare Deed - the Signature in Question is the one on the far left
Memorial to Shakespeare, Heminge and Condell in the Churchyard of St Mary Aldermanbury
It details the information that the gatehouse property cost £140 and was a dwelling house, or tenement, within the precincts of the old Blackfriars monastery. It was situated in the area of Puddle Wharf (now St Andrew's Hill) and the Wardrobe (Wardrobe Place). It is assumed that the modern day location is St Andrew's Hill and Carter Lane, but there is no certainty as to which corner.
The deed was purchased by the Corporation of London in 1843 for £145. There is also a complementary document at the British Library that was executed the following day, stipulating that £60 of the purchase money should remain on mortgage. It remained unpaid on Shakespeare's death.
To accompany the exhibition, there is a wealth of information about Shakespearean London and theatres, as well as about Shakespearean actors over the last 400 years.
A Model of the first Globe playhouse that was created for the Festival of Britain in 1951
Several videos are available to watch whilst at the Archives, and all can be viewed in greater comfort on the Mediatheque terminals on the same floor as the Shakespeare exhibition.
A Collage of Pictures of Shakespeare, most of which have never been authenticated
If you already know a fair amount about Shakespeare, his theatre, life and times, you won't gain much more from visiting the London Metropolitan Archives, but it could be a useful introduction for those wishing to learn more from the documents, photos, prints and posters on display. And of course there is always that precious signature, which is only available for viewing at specified times as shown on the website.