Welcome to Early Modern London Theatres!

Early Modern London Theatres (EMLoT) is a research database and educational resource made available by Records of Early English Drama (REED), an editorial project based at the University of Toronto, Canada.

EMLoT lets you see what direct use has been made, over the last four centuries, of pre-1642 documents related to professional performance in purpose-built theatres and other permanent structures in the London area. It is not a comprehensive collection of those pre-1642 documents; rather, it charts the copies (or ‘transcriptions’) which were subsequently made of them. It thus gives you access to the varied and long ‘after-life’ of those documents. It tells you who used them, and when, and where you can find evidence of that use. It also gives you some access to what was used, because it includes a brief account (or ‘abstract’) of the transcription’s contents, together with a reference to the location of the original document.

This database does not include play texts, and if your main interest is in the pre-1642 evidence for actual performances, ceremonies, and the playing of secular music in London, you should go first to the London, Middlesex and Surrey collections of the REED series. They are currently being edited — Ecclesiastical London (2008) and the Inns of Court (2010) are published — and, when they are completed, will be made available in hard copy and online, ultimately being linked to this site.

As you will appreciate, systematically collecting and describing centuries of usage of pre-1642 documents is a substantial, continuing task, so EMLoT does not yet cover the whole area: the first phase of work has concentrated on the theatres north of the Thames, particularly those lying outside the city’s walls in the areas known as Middlesex and Westminster. The next phase will be to extend coverage to Bankside and hence into Surrey — areas also outside the city limits at the time the original documents were written.