All in the eye of the beholder

Venue: Shakespeare's Globe and The View from The Shard
Date: 17 Oct 2018

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Laura Sexton reports back from a cultural Reader Club trip to Shakespeare’s Globe and The View from The Shard.

Our day began at Shakespeare’s Globe, situated on the south bank of the River Thames. With its beautiful thatched roof, it looks a bit out of place amongst the modern skyscrapers. But despite being tucked away, the Shakespearean theatre, as I soon found out with our group of about 40, is an attraction you won’t forget.

Speaking of the thatched roof, during our tour we discovered that the reason for the first version of the theatre burning down was due to a cannon being fired out of one of the top windows, catching the roof, which resulted in the whole theatre being destroyed in 1613. The second version of the theatre burnt down during the Great Fire of London. 

The structure that we see today was completed in 1997, but you wouldn’t know. It has been created to look as close to the original as possible. In fact, our group was surprised to hear that the two pillars on the stage are made from trees which were alive when Shakespeare was. 

But aside from the theatre’s glorious structure, it was our tour guide Kaja, who made the trip so memorable. Did you know that audience members would sometimes have to catch the actors if they fell off the stage? Kaja was so knowledgeable and passionate about Shakespeare and the theatre that many GTOs said they’d return with their group just to have her as a guide. 

After an insightful morning it was over to Pizza Express for lunch and a chance to discuss the trip so far as well as get to know each other.  

To be, or not to be: That is the question

Bellies full, next up was The Globe exhibition, housed to the right of the theatre. We were given audio guides and time to enjoy the displays which included models of The Globe and Rose Theatre and costumes including an extremely elaborate one made for the character of Elizabeth I. 

Inspired by the costumes, I was later put forward to take part in a costume demonstration and dressed up as Ophelia from Hamlet. The costume guides explained each part of the attire which featured stockings, garters, petticoats and the corset – which I can confirm, is rather difficult to breathe in!

“The theatre was wonderful, and the staff have been so welcoming. Kaja, our guide, was brilliant. Lunch was very tasty and I enjoyed the views from the top of The Shard. I’d definitely consider bringing my group. It’s all been very well organised.” - Bharti Kotecha of Bharti’s Group

The View from The Shard

A bird’s eye view

Later in the afternoon we went across to The Shard, which is a short walk from the theatre through the smells and sights of Borough Market and past Sir Francis Drake’s ship, The Golden Hinde. 

As you approach The Shard the sudden realisation of its height becomes apparent as it magnificently towers above you. The Roald Dahl-esque elevators, which move at about six metres per second, took us up to Level 72 where The View from The Shard attraction is. 

“These Reader Club trips are a great way of getting information regarding group travel. It’s one thing passing on a leaflet, but to actually experience and see for yourself what a place is like, there’s no comparison.” - Michael Milner – British Rail Staff Railway Society

Once at the top, the views, which stretch about 40 miles, were awe-inspiring. Our guide Simon took us around and pointed out key landmarks, such as Wembley Station, the BT Tower, and The Coca Cola London Eye. We were lucky enough to witness Tower Bridge opening too, as four tall ships approached – a sight which looked especially impressive from above.

To be able to see London from such a height was a first for most and the sun came out just as we reached the top. Having had such a grand day, inspired by Shakespeare, and enthused by incredible vistas, everyone went home feeling exhilarated.

I will definitely be returning to Shakespeare’s Globe and The Shard, and feedback tells me both can expect a flood of group interest too.

“The whole trip was great. The Globe was excellent, and the Shard was the icing on the cake. Kaja was so knowledgeable and passionate which made the trip memorable.” - David Issac - Whitethorn Social and Rambling Club

Shakespeare’s Globe: Book ten seated tickets and get an extra free. For tours of the theatre and exhibition, group rates are available plus a free additional ticket for every 16th ticket.

The View from The Shard:For every ten paying guests, one leader goes free. Fast track entry is available for groups also, as well as escorted visits.

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