The Hope was the last outside theatre to be built and the first to have a dual purpose (playing and bear-baiting).

It was located at Bankside, Bear Gardens and staged various plays, including Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair. The Hope opened in 1614, seemingly set up by Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn to compete with the newly constructed second Globe in the Jacobean period. However, the idea of an auditorium sharing playing and bear-baiting does not appear to have been successful for too long.

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Narrative contexts

One striking image we have of the problems faced at the Hope, owing to its dual-purpose design as bear arena and theatre, comes to us in the printed edition of Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, performed there by the Lady Elizabeth’s Men in 1614, and in which Jonson makes it very clear that he was not happy with the new venue as a setting. The play's Induction contains the following reference to the Hope:

'The play shall presently begin. And though the fair be not kept in the same region that some here, perhaps, would have it, yet think that therein the author hath observed a special decorum, the place being as dirty as Smithfield and as stinking every whit.'

Known owners

  • Philip Henslowe 29/08/1613 - 06/01/1616
  • Edward Alleyn 29/08/1613 - 25/11/1626

Known occupants

  • Lady Elizabeth's Players 1614 - 1615
  • Prince Charles's Men 1615 - 1617

Hollar's 1638 sketch, showing the Globe and the Hope (Courtesy of Yale Centre for British Art)

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Bear Gardens



National Grid Reference

532246 180474


From the Southside of St Paul’s on St Paul’s Churchyard cross the road near the Visitor Information Centre and walk down Peter’s Hill onto the Millennium Footbridge, and once on Bankside walk past Shakespeare’s Globe turning right at Beargardens. Walking past the site of the Hope theatre, which stood about halfway along this road, turn left into Park Street, soon arriving at the Rose site on the left. From the Rose site cross Park Street and walk under Southwark bridge, the site of the original Globe being immediately on your right.