We sample Shakespeare’s Globe’s Story & Tour package, as well as its new afternoon tea offer at the Swan Bar & Restaurant. 

“It’s staggering when you think that the Globe Theatre was built without using any power tools”, our fabulous tour guide Cicely shares. It is indeed.

As you look around the open-air theatre, it really is an incredible architectural wonder. Around 9,000 wooden pegs hold the timbers together; the Globe Theatre we see today was built using the same techniques and tools as the carpenters in Shakespeare’s time.

Shakespeare's Globe

The Globe Theatre on London’s Bankside can hold 1,570 people, 700 standing. 

And it’s all thanks to the vision of Sam Wanamaker, an American actor and director who pursued his lifelong dream of building a reconstruction of the original Globe theatre. Sadly he died in 1993, while the theatre was still being built, but his legacy lives on. In fact, this year is the tenth anniversary of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, an indoor theatre which forms part of Shakespeare’s Globe. It is London’s only candlelit theatre and hosts an array of performances within the intimate setting. 

I joined a familiarisation visit to sample the new Shakespeare’s Globe Story & Tour package, available for groups. Featuring a 50-minute guided tour and then self-guided time in the new exhibition space, it was a great way of soaking up 400 years of fascinating history. 

As our guide Sicily took us around different areas of the iconic wooden auditorium, production staff were setting up for that day’s performance of Much Ado About Nothing, which opened the Globe Theatre’s 2024 season.

Two women dress up in Shakespeare outfits at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Source: ©David Jensen

Groups can dress up as Shakespeare characters for a great photo opportunity in the new exhibition space. 

Sicily talked us through the different tiers of seating, and the history behind them, sharing captivating stories of the theatre’s past including how the original Globe theatre was destroyed by fire in 1613 and why it doesn’t have a roof. We also learnt about the iconic thatched roof (it is the only thatched-roof building in London) and how even for today’s performances, there are no microphones or special effects. 

Keeley at The Globe Theatre

Keeley gets up-close to the stage during the tour. 

The exhibition, which only opened last year, is wonderfully set out underneath the auditorium; we actually heard some of the musicians rehearsing during our visit. As well as London’s incredible history (I loved the ‘frozen’ river Thames scene and story), there are some fantastic immersive experiences to bring Shakespeare’s performances over the years to life. My favourite was having a go at producing the wind sounds with a cylinder that is still used today.

There is also the opportunity to dress up in some of the many colourful costumes and head-wear worn by characters throughout the decades and our group were also treated to a demonstration about printing presses which gave a fascinating insight into how Shakespeare’s works were adapted and reproduced. 

Group visits to Shakespeare’s Globe

Parties of up to 30 people can benefit from discounted tickets as well as special dining options at the Swan Bar & Restaurant next door. We sampled the Much Ado About Nothing afternoon tea which was incredible! 

A group have a Twilight Tour with a Shakespeare's Globe guide

Source: Pete Le May 2023

Discover Shakespeare’s fascination with the dark on a Twilight Walking Tour of the Bankside area and beyond.

Shakespeare’s Globe Story & Tour is now available for group bookings and GTOs can combine a tour with a matinee or evening performance in either the Globe Theatre or Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. 

There are also a number of other tour options including the Twilight Walking Tour which takes place in October. Guides will transport your group back to London’s ‘Kingdom of Night’ and discover Shakespeare’s fascination with the dark. 

For more information about group visits to Shakespeare’s Globe contact 020 7401 9919 or email the group bookings team groupbookings@shakespearesglobe.com

And for dining options, including afternoon tea, at the Swan, visit swanlondon.co.uk