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Wrong Side of the River: London's disreputable - page 20 / 25





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dogs." He regarded it as a "very rude and nasty pleasure," but this did not prevent him from going again in September 1667

and April 1669.90

Nor were such exhibitions mounted solely for the pleasure of the masses. It was not for nothing that posts such as "Master

of the Queen's game in Paris Garden" and "Master, Guyder and Ruler of our Beares and Apes" were official court offices.

In addition, a visit to Bankside was normally included in the itinerary of foreign visitors to London who wished to be

shown the sights of the town. In a contemporary diary it is related that the French ambassadors, on 25 May 1559, were

entertained at Court with a dinner, and after dinner with a bull- and bear- baiting, the Queen herself looking on from a

gallery; the next day, they were taken down the river to see the baiting at Paris Gardens.91 It need hardly be said, however,

that such entertainment, even with the claim of being a "royal" sport, had its detractors. The collapse of the scaffold at a

Sunday bear-baiting in Paris Garden, in which a number of spectators were killed, was snatched up by celebrated

Presbyterian John Field as the theme for his treatise A Godly Exhortation, by occasion of the late judgement of God,

shewed at Parris-garden -- given to all estates for their instruction, concerning the keeping of the Sabbath day (1583).

Pointing to the disaster as a sure manifestation of God's wrath -- "although some wil say (and as it may be truly) that [the

wood] was very old and rotton" -- Field went on to emphasize that divine displeasure would not be appeased until such

places, including theaters, had been closed down completely, and not just on Sundays. A similar moral was drawn from a

disaster at a puppet show in 1599 and from the fires at the Globe in 1613 and at the Fortune in 1621.92 When, a few years

later, Gloucester MP Anthony Bridgeman introduced a bill in Parliament calling for "a restraint of profaning the

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Sabbath Day, especially with minstrelsy, baiting of bears and other beasts, and such like," he became one of the first to

appeal to the secular arm as the instrument of moral regeneration, a course of action which would become increasingly

popular over the next half-century.

Finally -- playhouses. It appears that there were players, if not playhouses, on the Surrey side as early as 1547, and already

causing trouble: after the death of Henry VIII, Gardiner proposed to have a solemn dirge in memory of the King, but, he

complained to the Council, the players of Southwark said that they also would have "a solemne playe to trye who shal have

most resorte, they in game, or I in ernest."93 Play-actors were formally expelled from the City by the Corporation in 1574,

but the effect of this official hostility was to encourage the establishment of playhouses just outside its jurisdiction. Thus,

the first public playhouse was established by the Burbages north of the City in Shoreditch in 1576, but performances were

being given at Newington Buttes to the south, "on that parte of Surrey without the jurisdiccion of the said Lord Maior," as

early as the spring of 1580. These public theaters were open to anyone who could afford the penny entrance (1d .) fee,

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