Unknown Shakespeare playlet discovered in Lea Valley

Last week Country Life sensationally revealed a picture of William Shakespeare as a young man.

This week’s issue (May 27) contains an article by Mark Griffiths who claims to have found an unknown Shakespeare playlet.

Its only performance was in the the Lea Valley.

Mark Griffiths says that in May 1591 Queen Elizabeth I travelled from Greenwich via Hackney to Waltham Cross where she stayed for ten days at Theobalds.

She was the guest of her chief minister Lord Burghley but he did not greet her. That task was left to William Shakespeare.

The Queen arrived on Monday 10 May. The playlet, with a cast of three at most, was performed later in the week with Shakespeare playing the gardener and another actor the mole catcher. A non speaking part involved presenting Elizabeth with a box.

Elizabeth’s successor James I swopped Hatfield House for Theobalds and it was at the former that Griffiths found part of the script.

We learn that after breakfast on day of the Queen’s departure, Thursday 20 May, she knighted Burghley’s son Robert Cecil who was soon to succeed his father as secretary of state.

The play has an interesting reference to Sir Robert’s own home Pymmes Park which was to the south at Silver Street. Pymmes Brook, which runs through ┬áthe grounds, can be seen entering the River Lea at Tottenham.

The remains of the original Theobalds, Cedars Park, is near Theobalds Grove Station, or a short walk from the riverside White Water Centre.

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