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Historic Boar’s Head pub sign goes on display at Shakepeare’s Globe

A pub sign from the Boar's Head Tavern on Eastcheap - the setting for Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 - is now on display in the foyer of Shakespeare's Globe on Bankside.

Roger Allam
Roger Allam unveils the Boar's Head sign in the Globe foyer. Photo: Fiona Moorhead.

The Boar's Head Tavern on Eastcheap in the City of London is recognised as the setting for Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 featuring one of Shakespeare's most famous and much-loved characters, Sir John Falstaff.

Roger Allam, who plays Falstaff in the Globe's production, unveiled the sign last week, days before his performance on the Globe stage as the character that frequented this legendary tavern.

"The acquisition of the Boar's Head Tavern stone carving is fascinating, educationally valuable and in-keeping with the themes of our 2010 theatre season," says Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe and director of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2.

"The Globe receives over 700,000 visitors each year, and we hope this display will be an engaging insight into the reality of Shakespeare's London and the imaginative creations in his work."

The original Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap, built before 1537, would have been known by many people who heard the plays when they were first performed in the late 1590s. The building was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, but was soon rebuilt in brick, with a carved stone bas-relief of a boar's head set above its first-floor windows.

In the absence of Elizabethan and Jacobean playhouses such as the Globe, which had been pulled down in 1644, the tavern became a place of pilgrimage in London for people wishing to pay homage to Shakespeare, until the late 18th century. The sign has not been seen in public for over 180 years.

The building was demolished in 1831 when the area was redeveloped, in preparation for the rebuilding of London Bridge.

However the carved stone was retained and is presented at Shakespeare's Globe by permission of the Museum of London. Loyal friend of Shakespeare's Globe Marcus Coles has pioneered this project and arranged for the sign to be encased within a specially commissioned display cabinet, featuring an imagined scene from the Boar's Head Tavern carved into limewood.

• The Globe this week named Neil Constable as its new chief executive. Constable, currently at the Almeida Theatre and latterly of the Royal Shakespeare Company, will replace Peter Kyle who retires later this year.

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