Egan, Gabriel. "The 1599 Globe and its modern replica: Virtual Reality
modelling of the archaeological and pictorial evidence." Early Modern
Literary Studies Special Issue 13 (April, 2004): 5.1-22 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/si-13/egan>.
The International Shakespeare Globe Centre (ISGC) replica theatre known as
'Shakespeare's Globe' currently standing in south London was designed to be
the best scholarly approximation of the building constructed by Peter Street
from the reclaimed timbers of the Theatre in Shoreditch that was
disassembled by its owners and removed to a newly leased site on Bankside in
December 1598 and January 1599. Two key pieces of evidence about the size
and shape of the 1599 Globe have come down to us: a sketch made by
Wenceslaus Hollar in preparation for his 'Long View of London' engraving
published in 1647, and the foundations of the building (now under Anchor
Terrace on Southwark Bridge Road). The Hollar sketch--reproduced in Tim
Fitzpatrick's article in this issue of EMLS--shows the second Globe,
built after a fire destroyed the first Globe in 1613, but because building
regulations enforced the reuse of the original foundations the second Globe
must have had the same groundplan, and hence the same size and shape, as the
first Globe. Thus evidence of the second building tells us of the first.
Those foundations were uncovered by a team from the Museum of London
Department of Greater London Archaeologyl (MoL-DGLA) in 1989-90 and drawings
published in paper form. At that time, the academic committee of the
proposed 'Shakespeare's Globe' reconstruction was meeting to finalize the
size and shape of the building and John Orrell's interpretations of the
evidence won the committee's approval, although there were notable demurrals
by Franklin J. Hildy and Martin Clout. The essence of Orrell's
interpretation was that the Globe was a 20-sided polygon 100 feet in
diameter, measured 'across the points', and the reconstruction was built to
that specification. This paper revaluates the interpretation of the evidence
that led Orrell to his conclusions and applies techniques of computer
modelling in order to corroborate the original findings made using paper and
ink, translucent cels, and trigonometric calculation. Although the evidence
of Hollar's sketch was available before the evidence from the foundations,
they will be taken in reverse order here (foundations, then Hollar sketch)
because the principles of modelling in relation to the foundations are
considerably simpler than those applied to the sketch.
The Globe Foundations
In advance of commercial development of the land upon which the Rose
playhouse had stood the Museum of London began excavation in December 1988.
During early February 1989 the remains of the Rose emerged and were, after
considerable controversy, non-destructively excavated .
Orrell and Andrew Gurr were the first into print with a provisional
evaluation of the site . The uncovered remains showed
the original configuration of the building and the result of the extensive
alterations made in 1592, known from the expenses recorded by Henslowe .
In February 1990 Franklin J. Hildy called an academic conference at the
University of Georgia to assess the discoveries made from the uncovering of
the remains of the Rose. Julian M. C. Bowsher and Simon Blatherwick, who led
the archaeological team working on the Rose site, presented their findings,
which confirmed the deviations from expectation suggested by Orrell and
Gurr's preliminary examination . While the conference
was being planned a second team from the Museum of London began working on
the site of the first Globe and on 12 October 1989 they announced discovery
of part of the Globe foundations. At the conference Orrell presented his
considered response to the evidence from the Rose and his preliminary
examination of the evidence from the Globe . The Globe
remains appeared to be part of the foundations of the outer wall and one
stair turret. The location of this turret, on a radial about 60 degrees east
of north, matched neither of the turrets shown by Hollar, and it was 50%
wider than it should have been . Orrell admitted that
these anomalies threw doubt on Hollar's representation of the orientation of
the Globe, but drew comfort from the fact that the turret was centred on an
angle of the main frame wall, as he expected, although Richard Hosley's work
on stair turrets made the opposite assumption that they should abut the
middle of a bay wall .
Orrell attempted to measure the angles and dimensions
suggested by the scant remains, and from them determine the size and shape
of the Globe. Assuming that the Globe was a regular polygon--an assumption
made less safe by the Rose remains--the few measurable angles and dimensions
in the Globe remains suggested a 20-sided polygon with a diameter of very
nearly 100 feet . The ground floor galleries were 12½
feet, or 12 feet 8 inches deep if measured radially, which is some 3 feet
less than we would expect from the ad quadratum method that Orrell
believed was Peter Street's usual method of working .
Ad quadratum geometric progression works by inscribing a circle
around a given square and then producing a further square from four tangents
of this circle. The ratio of the widths of the two squares is 1 to the
square-root of 2 and the ratio of the areas of the two squares is 1 to 2,
and these ratios govern the two squares (one 56 feet 1 inch square, the
other 79 feet 2 inches square) that formed the yard and outer wall of the
Fortune playhouse built by Street one year after building the Globe .
This correspondence strongly suggests that Street used the ad quadratum
method. Turning to the Rose remains, Orrell pointed out that the publicity
drawing issued by the Museum of London and reproduced in his earlier article
 overstated the irregularity of the remains and
rather too emphatically imposed a conjectured groundplan in areas that had
not been dug . A more recent drawing showed greater
regularity and was consistent with use of the ad quadratum method in
laying the groundplan for the original 1587 construction .
Irregularity in the initial construction would be difficult to reconcile
with the evidence that 'framing', the prefabrication of the timber frame,
took place off-site and hence detailed plans were agreed so that the laying
of foundations and prefabrication of the frame could proceed concurrently in
Applying the evidence of the Globe remains to the project in hand, Orrell
accepted that the Globe could not have been laid out ad quadratum but
nonetheless it could have been constructed using a surveyor's standard
three-rod line if geometric pre-calculation were used to derive the correct
length for each bay's outer wall . Orrell
advised against acting upon this subjective response until further
consideration of the evidence had taken place. The ISGC decided to build two
experimental bays based on Orrell's tentative response to the evidence of
the Globe remains, assuming that the original had 20 gallery bays each 12½
feet deep, the overall diameter being 100 feet across points .
Orrell had concluded that this was not an ad quadratum design since
the diameters of the circles within which are inscribed the inner and outer
polygons of the groundplan were not in a 1-to-root-2 relation. But the
workshop experience of Peter Curdy, the timber-frame construction expert
contracted to make the reconstruction, suggested that the wall plate frame
would be fabricated at the same time as the ground sill frame, and that
Peter Street would have considered the proportions of the former, which
defined the dimensions of the uppermost gallery bay, to be just as important
as those of the ground sill frame. If there was a jetty -- the
"Juttey-forwardes" of the Fortune contract 
-- of 12 inches in each of the two elevated bays, the uppermost gallery bay
could be brought into an ad quadratum relationship with the overall
diameter. During 1991 more of the Globe remains were uncovered and
Blatherwick and Gurr published their revised conjectures; if anything the
evidence uncovered in 1991 increased the uncertainty about the design of the
first Globe because foundations were uncovered that could not easily be
related to those already known .
From the angular foundations Blatherwick and Gurr attempted to extrapolate
the shape of the polygonal playhouse. An ad quadratum pair of
concentric circles could be made to touch several of the remains if the
outer circle had a diameter of 80 feet .
Alternatively, by projecting lines from the fragments of radials in the
remains, the centre of the playhouse where these radials meet could be
established; this method yielded a 100 feet diameter .
Such a small proportion of the remains could be reached without violating
the agreement with English Heritage (who had a duty to protect the overlying
building, Anchor Terrace) that Blatherwick and Gurr wondered if the
scheduled area believed to contain the Globe remains was large enough. So
ambiguous were the remains that perhaps the wrong piece of land was being
protected , and Clout published an article claiming
that this was indeed the case . In a response to
Blatherwick and Gurr's work, which was printed at the end of their article,
Orrell rejected the attempt to fit the remains into circular patterns.
Orrell pointed out that the foundations would support a polygonal building,
not a circular one, and that the proper method was to try to fit the remains
into triangular patterns . Blatherwick and Gurr's 80
feet configuration made a very poor fit when constructed as a polygon, and
at best it produced an unlikely 11-sided playhouse. Orrell measured the
least damaged angle in the foundations, apparently part of the inner gallery
wall, as 162 degrees, which indicated a 20-sided playhouse .
If the playhouse was about 100 feet across, as Orrell had long believed, the
20-sided configuration could, he claimed, be made to fit extremely well with
the uncovered remains .
The two experimental bays built by ISGC in 1992 reflected Orrell's latest
thinking: a 20-sided Globe of about 100 feet external diameter. Hildy
summarized Orrell's work and the building project in an article that drew
attention to what he considered to be an important flaw in the former, and
therefore the latter . Hildy noted that Orrell's
projections were based on a drawing of the Globe remains that was published
by the Museum of London for the purposes of clear reproduction, but which
was less accurate than the original drawings made on site .
Hildy acquired the original drawings and applied Orrell's method to them; he
found that the angle measured by Orrell as 162 degrees was, to his eye, 160
degrees, and that other measurements were also significantly adrift. Hildy's
use of Orrell's method upon the original drawings produced an 18-sided Globe
of about 90 feet across . To collate the scholarly
responses to the evidence of the Globe remains and the experimental bays,
ISGC called a one-day seminar on 10 October 1992 at the offices of the
project's architects, Pentagram Design in London. At the seminar Orrell
summarized his work on the Globe remains and indicated his acceptance of
Hildy's argument that the published diagrams were inadequate by showing a
new diagram that Hildy had obtained by photocopying the original drawings
from the Museum of London archive. Orrell demonstrated that even this
photocopy was subject to distortion introduced by the copying process, but
the use of overlaid metric graph paper enabled this distortion to be
measured and allowance made .
There followed a 'Cinderella' procedure in which competing polygonal
configurations, some brought by delegates and others derived from published
works, were laid over the diagram of the Globe remains to see which fitted
best. Apart from Orrell's proposed configuration, the closest fit was an
18-sided 90 feet diameter construction offered by Hildy. This appeared to
fit perfectly until distortions in the underlying drawing of the remains and
the overlaid drawing of the configuration were compensated for, at which
point an implausible discrepancy emerged . Orrell's
20-sided 99 feet configuration, on the other hand, fitted perfectly in every
respect. Hildy responded that all reproductions of the original drawings
introduce distortion and that the only reliable method was to count the grid
squares on the originals and proceed by trigonometric means to derive the
angles. This Hildy had done and found in favour of his 18-sided 90 feet
diameter playhouse . Gurr, as chair of the meeting,
called for delegates to set aside subjective feelings about whether a 100 or
90 feet diameter was typical or appropriate and asked them to vote on
whether the project should adopt Orrell's or Hildy's plan. Orrell's design
won by 14 votes to 6 .
In 1999 the Museum of London Archaeological Service (MoLAS, successor of
the MoL-DGLA for our purposes) supplied this author with its final version
of the drawing of the Globe foundations, and as is usual these days it took
the form of a computer file in the format used by the industry-standard
Computer Aided Design (CAD) software package called AutoCAD. The precision
with which measurements can be specified in AutoCAD far exceeds what can be
achieved with even the highest quality ink and paper drawings, and the
software can be instructed to perform complex mathematic calculations based
on the objects that are represented in its drawings. Indeed, as the objects
represented in an AutoCAD 'drawing' are stored with their dimensions
recorded in any unit system the operator cares to specify, and because the
'drawings' can contain information about all three dimensions of an object,
these 'drawings' are not really drawings at all (a term that carries an
implication of a simple scale ratio between represented and representing
entities) but rather models of the objects they represent. If the operator
chooses to enter information about just 2 of the 3 possible dimensions, the
resulting file looks like a 2-dimensional drawing, but is in fact
essentially an accurate model of a paper drawing of the objects. The
computer file supplied by the MoLAS is composed of several virtual layers,
each containing information about a different kind of material found on the
site. Thus one layer (colour coded white) showed the chalk remains found,
another (colour coded blue) represented concrete, and another still (colour
coded cyan) represented flint remains. Within AutoCAD the operator can elect
to see several or all of the layers at once, and once the detail starts to
build up it becomes clear that the colour coding scheme is necessary to
prevent mistaking one kind of material remains for another; the simple
black-and-white representations of traditional archaeological drawings are
considerably more difficult to make sense of in this regard.
As most EMLS readers will not possess the AutoCAD software needed to read
the file supplied by MoLAS , the images shown here
are 2-dimensional colour graphics exported from AutoCAD and using the
colour-coding scheme created by MoLAS with slight modification. Figure 1 is
a graphic representation of the MoLAS model in which the layers called
'bricks' and 'robber', which represent the foundations made in 1599 to
support the Globe playhouse, have been rendered in yellow for high
(Figure 1. Graphic representation of the MoLAS AutoCAD drawing of ACT-89
excavation, Globe Theatre foundations, Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1)
The white circle, added by the author, encompasses the area around the
angle measured by Orrell as 162 degrees and Hildy as 160 degrees, which
would give a polygon whose each corner was, respectively, 18 degrees and 20
degrees less than a straight line (of 180 degrees), and hence a 20-sided
(360 / 18) or 18-sided (360 / 20) Globe. It is clear that any attempt to
measure this 'angle' is hopeless: lines can be said to meet at an angle, but
this is merely the intersection of two blobs.
Computerization is of no special help with the data inside the white
circle, since any number of angles between about 150 and 170 degrees could
be made to lie upon this 'knuckle joint' of the foundations, corresponding
to buildings of between 12 and 36 sides respectively. But taking the graphic
as a whole, or rather the AutoCAD model from which it is derived, it is
possible to repeat the 'Cinderella' process undertaken at the Pentagram
meeting of 10 October 1992, using computer models instead of the allegedly
distorted photocopied cels then available. To this end, the author built an
AutoCAD model of the International Shakespeare Globe Centre replica (the
building called 'Shakespeare's Globe') with a view to combining it with the
MoLAS model of the foundations: if the building that was constructed in the
1990s fits on the foundations of the 1599 building, we may say that the
scholarship of the reconstruction is vindicated. The author's model
exploited AutoCAD's ability to model 3-dimensional solids and it should be
remembered that the pictures shown in this paper use lines to represent the
edges of solids, but the model is no wire-frame: each structural timber is
defined as a solid object with density.
In the event a number of difficulties were encountered in merging the
author's model of the modern building with the MoLAS model of the 1599
foundations, not least of which was the architect and timber-frame
constructors' use of feet and inches in their plans and the archaeologists'
use of metres. With the appropriate scaling, applied, however, the models
were merged and allowed to occupy different layers within a single new,
composite model so that the computer could perform--to a much higher degree
of accuracy than achievable with photocopy cels--the sliding of the new
building onto the old foundation. The final siting of the building in
respect of the foundation was, of course, achieved by manual rotations and
translations of the layers containing the building and the foundation.
Figure 2 represents the best possible alignment of the foundations (slightly
rotated from Figure 1) with the building, represented only by its brick
(Figure 2. The 1599 Globe foundations underneath the brick footings
(shown as white rectangles) of ISGC Globe reconstruction)
It can be seen from Figure 2 that the Globe replica fits reasonably well
on the 1599 foundations, although far from perfectly. Importantly, it is
clear that had the replica been made with fewer sides (as Hildy
recommended), the fit would have been improved in certain areas but made
worse in others. For example, what I have called the 'knuckle joint'
(circled in white in Figure 1) comprises an area of brick (filled in by
semi-solid yellow in the figures) where two flats of the inner playhouse
wall seem to meet, and extending from this intersection two rather less
orderly areas (picked out by yellow lines, not filled) where brick once was,
now robbed out. On close inspection the brick part of the 'knuckle joint'
seems somewhat more acutely angled than the replica's footings (nearer to
Hildy's 160 degree, 18-sided design), but if the robbed out area represents
how these original foundations extended from that intersection, anything
more acute than the 162 degree angle of the replica would not sit
comfortably on the original foundations. On the other hand, the 'dog leg'
intersection to the right of the 'knuckle joint' (about 2 inches right
across your computer screen and 1 inch up) would seem to better support a
more acutely angled playhouse wall than it does the wall of the replica that
has been built. While there can be no certainty in this matter, I would
judge that the evidence from the excavation of the foundations is compatible
with the ISGC Globe replica, but it is also compatible (and, arguably, a
shade more compatible) with at least one of the alternative designs that
were rejected. With this is mind, we can turn to a revaluation of the
arguments by which Orrell steered the academic committee of ISGC towards his
favoured design (a 20-sided polygon, 100 feet across) and in particular his
brilliant interpretation of Hollar's preparatory sketch for the 'Long View
Hollar's topographical glass and the 'Long View'
On the last page of an early article on the evidence of Peter Street's timber
framing practices Orrell made the tantalizing comment that he had "developed
a new way of measuring from Hollar's sketch" .
Orrell presented his ground-breaking work at a symposium held at Wayne State
University in Detroit to discuss reconstruction of the second Globe .
The key to the new approach was a reconstruction of the method Hollar used
to make his preliminary sketches. Orrell noticed that the companion piece
of the view of Southwark, a view looking eastward towards Greenwich, lacked
artistic organization and he wondered if this could be due to the use of an
instrument called a 'topographical glass', which would produce almost photographic
accuracy at the expense of beauty. The proper test of this hypothesis in respect
of the Southwark view required that Orrell locate at least four landmarks
in the sketch that could also be located on a reliable modern map of the same
area of London. Lines were drawn on the map from the vantage point, the tower
of St Saviour's church (now Southwark Cathedral), to each of the landmarks
and beyond. If the three intervals between four landmarks on the sketch could
be lined up with the intervals between these four radiating lines on the map
this would prove that Hollar's sketch was constructed using a drawing frame
. In the event Orrell was able to line up five landmarks
in this way and he emphasized that this indicated an accuracy far beyond the
reach of artistic judgment:
. . . the precision here is entirely a matter of rendering a plane
intersection of the visual pyramid. He is not putting down on paper a
simple record of the relative distances apart of the landmarks as seen
radially from his point of view. Such a landscape presupposes a more or
less segmental arc of intersection and results in intervals quite
different from those yielded by the plane intersection .
Orrell's method of lining up the landmarks in the sketch with the radials
drawn on a map from the vantage point to those landmarks not only
established the accuracy of the Hollar sketch, but also yielded a precise
figure for the scale. Since the sketch represents a picture plane which
intersects the radials from the landmarks at a given angle (the angle to
which the sketch had to be turned to make all the landmarks line up), an
imagined slice through a given landmark at the same angle relative to north
would be simply a scaled up version of that landmark's image in the sketch.
If the distance between that landmark and the tower of St Saviour's is known
then the principle of similar triangles will yield the width of the imagined
slice through the given landmark. Orrell demonstrated his method using scale
drawings but performed his calculations using trigonometry .
Since the distance between St Saviour's and the Hope and Globe theatres is
known, because their locations have been determined, the Hollar sketch
yields the real dimensions of the playhouses. After an allowance for
anamorphosis -- a distortion unique to circular objects such as columns and
amphitheatres far from the centre line -- Hollar's sketch tells us that the
Hope was 99.29 feet wide and the Globe was 103.35 feet wide. Orrell
calculated the margin of error in the sketch using landmarks of known size
and found it was ±2%. Rather than assume that the Hope and Globe were
different sizes, Orrell decided that they had a common width of about 101 or
102 feet .
Orrell extended this work in The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe.
Orrell was clearly aware of the contradiction between his work on ad
quadratum based on the Elizabethan surveyor's three-rod line and his
measurement of the second Globe as 103.35 feet wide ±2%. In the book Orrell
provided the arithmetical detail absent from the earlier article and,
although his allowance for the distortion of anamorphosis remained 3.64%,
his final figure for the width of the Globe was revised down to 102.35 feet
±2% . The reason for the reduction by 1 foot was
that Orrell had earlier believed the Hollar sketch to be 0.306m wide 
but later revised this to 0.309m . As before, Orrell
used the margin of error in Hollar's sketch, ±2%, to argue that the Hope
and the Globe were probably the same diameter of "a few inches over a
round 100 ft" . In support of this Orrell
offered an analysis that suggested that the engraving that Hollar made from
the sketch shows a conscious effort to compensate for the anamorphic
distortion, which affects the Globe more than the Hope, in order to make
them appear to be the same size. Orrell believed the "inveterate
sightseer" knew the Hope and Globe to be the same size and wanted to
articulate this fact in the engraving even though the sketch, because of its
method of construction, tended to obscure it . The
heights of the buildings cannot be accurately measured from the Hollar
sketch because the bases of both playhouses are obscured by other objects
and the point where the walls meet the ground cannot be determined. Making a
rough estimate of where the bases should be, Orrell found the heights of
both playhouses to be approximately 32 feet, which is close to the presumed
33 feet of the Fortune . Although Orrell gave a new
single figure for the width of the Globe as measured from the Hollar sketch,
the variation in the ink lines on the paper allowed a range of measurements
which result in a range of calculated widths, from a minimum of 101.37 feet
to a maximum of 103.32 feet . To each of these can
be applied the ±2% margin of error found in other landmarks in the sketch,
and so Orrell was able to reconcile this work with his research on ad
quadratum practices. If the margin of error is applied to the lower
figure it is possible to imagine a Globe that is 99 feet between post
centres, and 100 feet from outer wall to outer wall, which was the size
suggested by the use of ad quadratum progression from a stage 49½
feet wide .
It is now possible to check Orrell's analysis of the Hollar sketch by
modelling in a computer the salient aspects of the supposed method of its
creation. The method by which the sketch was made is carefully described by
. . . the stylus can be treated almost like the sight
of a gun. Looking across its tip at some distant landmark, the artist
registers the point where his line of sight crosses the intervening glass.
Let us assume that he is drawing the outline of the view directly onto the
glass: as he moves his eye to-and-fro behind the stylus in order to mark
the alignments of objects to the left and right of the prospect, so the
drawing he makes will appear to depart from the actual view he sees if he
simply looks directly at it.
. . . precise bearings can readily be taken,
as the reader may ascertain for himself if he will set up some sort of
stylus 9 in. in front of his window--an unfolded paper clip will do, held
between the pages of a book--and with a felt pen trace the outline of the
view outside point for point on the glass. In doing so he will, I believe,
be reconstructing the essentials of Hollar's method; and he will not fail
to be struck by its potential for the most accurate recording of a
topographical prospect .
The reader is encouraged to try the experiment that Orrell described: the
resulting pattern of dots on the window will indeed be an accurate
representation of the distant objects, but not at all like a perspective
drawing. To test that this was indeed how Hollar's sketch was made, or to
put it another way, that the ISGC Globe (built to Orrell's specifications
derived from his interpretation of the Hollar sketch) is the right size, the
author used his 3-dimensional model of the ISGC Globe. A sketch, made inside
a computer model, produced by the method Orrell described and using as its
object the 3-dimensional model of the Globe already in existence should --
if Orrell's scholarship is correct -- look like the extant Hollar sketch. If
it does not, the Hollar sketch was not made the way that Orrell described,
or it was made that way but Orrell slipped somewhere in his interpretation
of it and the Globe was in fact not 100 feet across.
We do not need to recreate the entire sketch, just the sighting lines that
gave Hollar the width of the Globe that he drew, for the diameter of the building
is the disputed dimension. The procedure was as follows. The 3-dimensional
Globe in the model was placed on the X-Y plane (so the bottom of its sills
were at zero in the Z dimension), which is in effect the 'ground level' of
Southwark. Along this ground a line was drawn from the centre of the Globe
to one of the building's 20 corners and on a further 1181.683 feet, which
is the known distance from the 'knuckle joint' in the above figures to the
bottom of the tower of Southwark Cathedral where Hollar stood. The known bearing
of the 'knuckle joint', measured from a compass on St Saviour's tower, is
280.5 degrees, so counting anti-clockwise 280.5 degrees from the end of this
line another line was drawn and labelled 'north'. (Thus, measured clockwise
from north as archaeological angles are, the Globe stands at the end of a
line bearing 280.5 degrees -- or just north of west -- and 1181.683 feet distant.)
At the end of the line opposite from the Globe, that is at the St Saviour's
end, a vertical line (that is, one perpendicular to the X-Y plane) was drawn
to a height of 144.357 feet, the known height (relative to the ground on which
the Globe rested) of the platform on which Hollar stood .
The point at the top of this line represents the stylus of Hollar's topographical
glass, 1181.683 feet distant (measured along the ground) from the Globe and
144.357 feet above it. A vertical plane representing Hollar's sketch itself
was modelled at a distance from the stylus (measured in the X-Y, the horizontal,
plane) of 8.917 inches along a perpendicular of the plane. (8.917 inches equals
226.49 mm, which Orrell established as the distance between stylus and paper
required by the bearings of the other five buildings). To model Hollar's sighting
of a point on the distant object and marking it on the sketch, it is only
necessary to draw a straight line from the stylus to that point on the distant
object (here, the Globe model) and to note where this line intersects the
plane. Finding the coordinates of the intersection of a plane and a line that
pierces it is just the kind of work that computer modelling software performs
easily and accurately. The modelling described in this paper was performed
in 3 dimensions and VRML versions of the Globe and Hollar's instrument are
available from the author. But in the 2-dimensional pictures that follow,
the 3-dimensional Globe model is seen from a bird's-eye view and its essential
details have been removed to leave only a circular outline. Although the footings
of the 1599 Globe and its 1613 replacement were polygonal -- a fact that must
condition our understanding of the foundations -- the exterior surfaces were
rendered to give the appearance of a solid stone circle .
The 1181.683 feet line from the 'knuckle joint' to the bottom of South
Cathedral tower is a simple linear distance, but how does it relate to the
rest of the building? That is to say, would this line from St Saviour's to
the 'knuckle joint' continue on to the centre of the Globe (as it would if
it lay on a radial of the playhouse 'circle') or would the bulk of the
playhouse lie to the left or right of such a continuation? The question is
illustrated in Figure 3.
In each illustration within Figure 3, the white circle represents a Globe
playhouse 100 feet in diameter and the white horizontal line the 1181.683
feet along the ground from St Saviour's tower to the 'knuckle joint' in the
previous figures. In the first illustration, the 'knuckle joint' happens to
be precisely on a radial ('3 o'clock') from the centre of the playhouse to
St Saviour's, so the playhouse radius is simply added to the distance to St
Saviour's and thus the centre of the Globe is 1231.683 feet from St
Saviour's. Because the Globe is 280.5 degrees (roughly west) of St Saviour's
tower, and given the geometry of the foundations in Figure 1, it is not hard
to imagine that what has been uncovered is indeed the corner of the
playhouse nearest to St Saviour's and hence a 1181.683 feet line from St
Saviour's would indeed strike the playhouse at about '3 o'clock'. But how
much difference would it make if this were not so, if the line from St
Saviour's to the 'knuckle joint' struck the playhouse a glancing blow, or to
put it another way if the 'knuckle joint' were at '2 o'clock', '1 o'clock',
or 'noon'? It should be remembered that the uncovered foundations are only a
tiny part of the whole Globe site, and we do not know for sure which part
has been uncovered.
Three of the many possibilities are shown in the lower three illustrations
in Figure 3 and it can be seen that if the 'knuckle joint' were at '2
o'clock' the playhouse centre would be 6 feet nearer to St Saviour's, at '1
o'clock' it would be 24 feet nearer, and finally if the 'knuckle joint' were
at 'noon' (the line from St Saviour's being a tangent to the circle) the
playhouse centre would be almost 50 feet (its entire radius) nearer to St
Saviour's, which is about 5% of the total distance between the two
buildings. Naturally, the same figures would apply in the symmetrical
situation of the 'knuckle joint' being at '4 o'clock', '5 o'clock', and '6
o'clock'. It is difficult indeed to imagine that what is shown in Figure 1
is in fact the 'noon' (roughly north) or '6 o'clock' (roughly south) corner
of the playhouse, since from its recurrent concave features (with everything
curved like the right bracket that ends this parenthetical clause) it seems
more likely an easterly corner, somewhere between, at most, '2 o'clock' and
'4 o'clock'. We may reasonably say, then, that we can locate the centre of
the playhouse (1231 feet from St Saviour's) to within about 6 feet, which is
the amount it shifts for 1 hour difference from '3 o'clock').
The first attempt at modelling what Orrell described put the playhouse
squarely on the end of the line from St Saviour's tower to the 'knuckle
joint', as shown in Figures 4a and 4b.
(Figure 4a. The 'knuckle joint' being about '3 o'clock')
The white line running just north of west right-to-left across the picture
is the 1181.683 feet distance between St Saviour's (focal point near the
bottom right corner) and the Globe (the white circle), angled 280.5 degrees
clockwise from north (or, as labelled, 79.5 degrees anti-clockwise). The
red lines are Hollar's sightings of the left and right side of the Globe:
tangents of the playhouse circle converging on the stylus, and passing through
the plane representing the sketch. Because the distance between the buildings
is more than a thousand times the distance between the stylus and the plane
representing the sketch, no detail of Hollar's topographical glass is visible
in this figure, so the next one is a blow up of this one's bottom right
(Figure 4b. The size of the image on Hollar's instrument with the
'knuckle joint' being about '3 o'clock')
As before, the green lines are dimensions, the white line represents the
1181.683 feet to the Globe, and the red lines are sightings from the left
and right sides of the Globe; the yellow line is Hollar's sketch. It should
be noted that this picture comes not from a drawing but from a computer
model, so the dimensioning numbers were produced by the computer from the
objects in the model; the author did not enter them manually as labels. The
author specified the objects thus: Hollar's sketch pointing 25.34 degrees
east of north, the sketch 8.917 inches from the stylus, and the sighting
lines extending from the existing model of the Globe, placed 1181.683 feet
away. The crucial outcome figure is the 0.7755 inches (= 19.7 millimetres)
that AutoCAD calculates as the distance between the two points where the
left and right sightings of the Globe intersect Hollar's sketch: this should
be the width of the Globe image in the extant sketch. About the size of the
image on the sketch, Orrell wrote "The maximum [distance], for the
outer sides of the lines marking the wall of the Globe, is 21.2mm; the open
space between them is 20.8mm and the distance between their centres is
21.0mm" . If the model accurately represents
how the sketch was made, the 100-feet diameter ISGC Globe that makes a 19.7
millimetre image in the sketch is smaller than the theatre it is supposed to
be a copy of, yet all objectors have argued for it being too large.
The 19.7 millimetre image is not far from the lower limit (20.8
millimetres) measured by Orrell from the sketch itself, so it is worth
trying to move the Globe model around the fixed point of the 'knuckle joint'
to see if alternative placings improve the fit between the computerized
version of the procedure and the explanation given by Orrell. Figure 5a
shows the playhouse placed so that the 'knuckle joint' is the most southerly
point of the playhouse as seen from St Saviour's tower (the red sighting
lines have been removed in this view) and Figure 5b shows the resulting
geometry at Hollar's topographical glass.
(Figure 5a. The 'knuckle joint' being about '6 o'clock')
(Figure 5b. The size of the image on Hollar's instrument with the
'knuckle joint' being about '6 o'clock')
As can be seen, this arrangement produces an image that is 0.7913 inches
(= 20.1 millimetres), which is closer still to Orrell's claimed 21
millimetre reading. The obvious next step is to try the opposite site, with
the 'knuckle joint' near the top of the playhouse, as in Figure 6a and
(Figure 6a. The 'knuckle joint' being about '12 o'clock')
(Figure 6b. The size of the image on Hollar's instrument with the
'knuckle joint' being about '12 o'clock')
This yields an image 0.8276 inches, which is 21.02 millimetres and almost
exactly what Orrell measured the Hollar image of the Globe to be. Finally,
for the sake of completeness, it is worth seeing what size image is produced
if we assumed that the 'knuckle joint' uncovered by the Museum of London
Archaeological Service were on the far side of the Globe from St Saviour's,
at about the '9 o'clock' position; this is shown in Figures 7a and 7b.
(Figure 7a. The 'knuckle joint' being about '9 o'clock')
(Figure 7b. The size of the image on Hollar's instrument with the
'knuckle joint' being about '9 o'clock')
Now the image of the Globe is a little larger than Orrell's, 0.8442
inches being 21.44 millimetres.
Orrell's narrative of the making of the Hollar sketch can be modelled in a
computer in a way that produces results close to, but significantly
different from, those found by Orrell himself. It is difficult to know what
to make of the differences, for the procedures in the computer modelling
follow exactly this author's understanding of Orrell's description ,
the trigonometric version of which this author previously confirmed in an
unpublished PhD thesis . When The Quest for
Shakespeare's Globe was published, the Globe foundations had not been
uncovered and for the position of the site of the Globe Orrell had to rely
on the work of W. W. Braines  and a map of Southwark
drawn in about 1620 , which taken together Orrell
thought "securely established [the location] within quite narrow
limits" . My reconstruction of the method by
which Hollar made the sketch is highly sensitive to relatively small changes
in the location of the Globe produced when we rotate it about the one firm
datum, the 'knuckle joint' uncovered in 1989. Orrell was, of course, aware
that precisely locating the Globe site was important, and after the
excavation he wrote:
Now that the true location of the Globe is known, I have been able to
use it as a datum for recalculating the angle of Hollar's plane
intersection. The resultant small change in the orientation of the picture
plane leads to a larger difference in the degree of anamorphosis affecting
the Globe, whose diameter I now calculate at 97.61 ft., plus or minus two
percent, a figure consistent with the 99 ft. diameter now proposed as a
result of the site studies .
It is not entirely clear what Orrell meant here, for "the angle of
Hollar's plane intersection" and "the orientation of the picture
plane" can only refer to the angle of 25.34 degrees east of north to
which Hollar's glass and its attached sketch were turned. Why should that
change as a result of finding out where the Globe was? Orrell used 5
identifiable landmarks in the sketch -- the east gable of St Paul's, Bevis
Bulmer's water tower, St Martin's Ludgate, Baynard's Castle/St Bride's, and
the Savoy -- to establish his picture plane angle, although admittedly he
had previously changed his reading from 25.25 degrees 
to 25.34 degrees . It is curious, then, that Orrell
later claimed that a new fix for the site of the Globe should alter the
picture plane angle, and he did not reveal by how much he thought it changed
In a private communication with the author, Orrell confirmed that his
reducing figures for the overall size of the Globe -- 103.35 feet in his
first explanation based on Hollar  to the 97.61 feet
quoted above -- was indeed due to changes in his calculation of the angle of
Hollar's glass, and went further:
But since then [the 1993 article cited above] I've had second thoughts:
I have yet to see a fully reliable plan of the Museum of London dig,
accurately orientated. On the present evidence it appears that we don't
yet know precisely where the Globe remains were, nor exactly which way
they pointed (an astonishing fact, but one readily checked if you compare
the various plans issued by the Museum, which fail to agree with one
The analysis summarized in this paper shows that knowing the precise
location of the Globe is indeed crucial to interpreting Hollar's sketch, not
because it affects the orientation of the instrument -- this is set by
independent data -- but because it conditions the distance of the playhouse
from the St Saviour's (nearer objects will produce larger readings) and also
because the further away from the central ray of the instrument's glass a
round object is placed, the greater the distorting effect of anamorphosis.
This distortion is admirably explained by Orrell 
but has been ignored here because our object is only to see if the image
produced on our computerized sketch matches that on the real sketch; that
the real and the virtual images give (equally) distorted representations of
their subjects is beside the point.
In this analysis it was possible to recreate the essential datum of the
Hollar sketch -- the 21 millimetre image of the Globe -- by precisely the
means Orrell described, but only by giving an implausible interpretation of
the foundations uncovered in 1989: that the 'knuckle joint' is on the north
side of the playhouse somewhere near the 'noon' position on the clockface
(as in Figures 6a and 6b), or else (the next closest fit) that it is on the
west side of the playhouse somewhere near the '9 o'clock' position on the
clockface (as in Figures 7a and 7b). It is not possible to move the Globe
further than I have without entirely giving up on the 'knuckle joint' as
part of the original building's foundations. In short, if the Hollar sketch
was made the way Orrell described, the Globe was either not where the 1989
excavations seem to put it -- they cover only about 2% of the Globe site and
are highly ambiguous -- or the Globe was not 100-feet across as Orrell
thought. Perhaps the Hollar sketch was not made by the method described by
Orrell, in which case we would again have to conclude that there is no
reason to favour Orrell's 100-feet design. We remain limited by the
principal evidence for the size of the Globe: the digital version of the
Museum of London's drawings of the excavation, and the Hollar sketch, the
making of which we can model in a computer. On this evidence, and by these
procedures, the most we can say is that ISGC replica Globe is a reasonable
approximation of the building it aims to represent, but its claim to that
title is not clearly stronger than that of other designs rejected in its
1 The author would like to acknowledge the financial
support of the British Academy in the execution of the research presented in
this paper, especially a £3,600 Small Research Grant for "An AutoCAD/VRML
model of the Globe" awarded in April 2000. This money was used to pay for
AutoCAD software and trips to research libraries that enabled the author to make
an accurate computer model of the ISGC Globe, based on the published plans and
architectural drawings archived by the Globe Research team at the ISGC Globe.
For the latter the author is also indebted to Undine Concannon, the Globe
archivist, and Jon Greenfield, the project's architect. At the Museum of London
Archaeological Service, Nathalie Cohen, Kate Pollard, and Robin Densem provided
invaluable assistance in connection with the AutoCAD drawing of the excavated
foundations of the Globe.
2 Barry Day, This Wooden 'O': Shakespeare's Globe
Reborn (London: Oberon, 1996), pp. 192-201.
3 John Orrell and Andrew Gurr, 'What the Rose Can
Tell us', Times Literary Supplement, 4497 9-15 June (1989), 636, 649.
4 R. A. Foakes and R. T. Rickert, eds., Henslowe's
Diary, Edited with Supplementary Material, Introduction and Notes
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), pp. 9-13.
5 Julian M. C. Bowsher and Simon Blatherwick, 'The
Structure of the Rose', in New Issues in the Reconstruction of Shakespeare's
Theatre: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the University of Georgia,
February 16-18, 1990, ed. Franklin J. Hildy (New York: Peter Lang, 1990),
6 John Orrell, 'Beyond the Rose: Design Problems for
the Globe Reconstruction', in New Issues in the Reconstruction of
Shakespeare's Theatre: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the University of
Georgia, February 16-18, 1990, ed. Franklin J. Hildy (New York: Peter Lang,
1990), pp. 95-118.
7 Orrell, 'Beyond the Rose: Design Problems for the
Globe Reconstruction' (p. 97).
8 Richard Hosley, 'The Shape and Size of the Second
Globe', in The Third Globe: Symposium for the Reconstruction of the Third
Globe Playhouse, Wayne State University, 1979, ed. C. Walter Hodges, S.
Schoenbaum and Leonard Leone (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1981), pp.
82-107 (pp. 88-91).
9 Orrell, 'Beyond the Rose: Design Problems for the
Globe Reconstruction' (pp. 99-100).
10 John Orrell, 'Peter Street at the Fortune and
the Globe', Shakespeare Survey, 33 (1980), 139-51; John Orrell, The
Quest for Shakespeare's Globe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983);
John Orrell, The Human Stage: English Theatre Design, 1567-1640
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
11 Orrell, 'Peter Street at the Fortune and the
Globe' (p. 146).
13 Orrell, 'Beyond the Rose: Design Problems for
the Globe Reconstruction' (pp. 100-1).
14 Orrell, 'Beyond the Rose: Design Problems for
the Globe Reconstruction' (pp. 101-7).
15 Orrell, 'Beyond the Rose: Design Problems for
the Globe Reconstruction' (pp. 107-9).
16 Peter McCurdy, 'Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: The
Construction of Two Experimental Bays in June 1992', in The Timber
Frame--From Preservation to Reconstruction: Papers Presented at the
International Council on Monuments and Sites UK Timber Seminar Held at Haydock
Park on 26 April 1993, ed. F. W. B. Charles (London: Icomos UK, 1993), pp.
17 Foakes & Rickert, eds., Henslowe's Diary,
Edited with Supplementary Material, Introduction and Notes, p. 307.
18 Simon Blatherwick and Andrew Gurr,
'Shakespeare's Factory: Archaeological Evaluations on the Site of the Globe
Theatre at 1/15 Anchor Terrace, Southwark Bridge Road, Southwark', Antiquity,
66 (1992), 315-33 (pp. 319-23).
26 Franklin J. Hildy, '"If You Build it They
Will Come": The Reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Gets Underway on
the Bankside in London', Shakespeare Bulletin, 10.3 (1992), 5-9.
27 Hildy, '"If You Build it They Will Come"'
28 Hildy, '"If You Build it They Will Come"'
29 Andrew Gurr, 'Evidence for the Design of the
Globe: The Report of a One-day Seminar Held on 10 October 1992 at Pentagram in
London', in The Design of the Globe, ed. Andrew Gurr, Ronnie Mulryne and
Margaret Shewring (London: International Shakespeare Globe Centre, 1993), pp.
1-19 (p. 6).
30 Gurr, 'Evidence for the Design of the Globe' (pp.
31 Gurr, 'Evidence for the Design of the Globe' (p.
32 Gurr, 'Evidence for the Design of the Globe' (pp.
33 Those who do are most welcome to copies of the
author's model of the ISGC Globe and to the MoLAS model of the foundations in
order to replicate the processing described in this paper. The author, an
employee of the Education Department of ISGC Limited attempting to be entirely
neutral about the interpretation of the evidence, would welcome others'
replication of the procedures described in this paper, with a view to
corroborating or contradicting its conclusion.
34 Orrell, 'Peter Street at the Fortune and the
35 John Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of
the Globe Theatre', in The Third Globe: Symposium for the Reconstruction of
the Third Globe Playhouse, Wayne State University, 1979, ed. C. Walter
Hodges, S. Schoenbaum and Leonard Leone (Detroit: Wayne State University Press,
1981), pp. 108-16.
36 Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the
Globe Theatre' (pp. 109-10).
37 Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the
Globe Theatre' (pp. 110-1).
38 Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the
Globe Theatre' (p. 115).
39 Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the
Globe Theatre' (p. 116).
40 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).
41 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
42 Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the
Globe Theatre' (p. 116n9)
43 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
44 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
45 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
46 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
47 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
48 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
49 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
50 The author would like to acknowledge the
assistance of Tim Fitzpatrick of University of Sydney in finding precise figures
for the distance and bearing from the Globe to the tower of St Saviour's Church
and the height of the tower. Peter Draper of Birkbeck College, University of
London, kindly confirmed (private email communication, 5 November 1999) that
alterations to the tower since the making of Hollar's sketch have not altered
the height above ground of the platform at the top of the tower on which Hollar
51 John Ronayne, 'Totus Mundus Agit Histrionem [The
Whole World Moves the Actor]: The Interior Decorative Scheme of the Bankside
Globe', in Shakespeare's Globe Rebuilt, ed. J. R. Mulryne, Margaret
Shewring and Andrew Gurr (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp.
121-46 (p. 121).
52 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
53 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
54 Gabriel Egan, Two 'Transitional' Late Plays
at the Globe: An Evaluation of the Scholarship of Globe Reconstruction and Its
Bearing on the Original Staging of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and Cymbeline,
Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Birmingham UK, 1997, Appendix 4, pp.
55 W. W. Braines, The Site of the Globe
Playhouse, Southwark, 2nd edition (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1924).
56 Irwin Smith, Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse: A
Modern Reconstruction in Text and Scale Drawings, Introd. James G. McManaway
(New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956), Plate 16.
57 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
58 John Orrell, 'The Accuracy of Hollar's Sketch of
the Globe', Shakespeare Bulletin, 11.2 (1993), 5-9 (9n3).
59 Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the
Globe Theatre' (pp. 114-5).
60 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
61 Orrell, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the
Globe Theatre' (pp. 115-6).
62 John Orrell, 'Revising the Width of the Globe
as Shown in Hollar's Sketch for the "Long View"': Email Correspondence
to Author 4 April, 1997.
63 Orrell, The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe,
Blatherwick, Simon, and Andrew Gurr. 'Shakespeare's Factory: Archaeological
Evaluations on the Site of the Globe Theatre at 1/15 Anchor Terrace, Southwark
Bridge Road, Southwark', Antiquity, 66 (1992), 315-33.
Bowsher, Julian, and Simon Blatherwick. 'The Structure of the Rose', in
New Issues in the Reconstruction of Shakespeare's Theatre: Proceedings
of the Conference Held at the University of Georgia, February 16-18, 1990,
ed. Franklin J. Hildy (New York: Peter Lang, 1990), pp. 55-78.
Braines, W. W. The Site of the Globe Playhouse, Southwark. 2nd edition.
London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1924.
Egan, Gabriel. Two 'Transitional' Late Plays at the Globe: An Evaluation
of the Scholarship of Globe Reconstruction and Its Bearing on the Original
Staging of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and Cymbeline, Unpublished
PhD thesis. University of Birmingham UK, 1997.
Foakes, R. A., and R. T. Rickert, eds. Henslowe's Diary, Edited with
Supplementary Material, Introduction and Notes. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Gurr, Andrew. 'Evidence for the Design of the Globe: The Report of a One-day
Seminar Held on 10 October 1992 at Pentagram in London', in The Design
of the Globe, ed. Andrew Gurr, Ronnie Mulryne and Margaret Shewring (London:
International Shakespeare Globe Centre, 1993), pp. 1-19.
Hildy, Franklin J. '"If You Build it They Will Come": The Reconstruction
of Shakespeare's Globe Gets Underway on the Bankside in London', Shakespeare
Bulletin, 10.3 (1992), 5-9.
Hosley, Richard. 'The Shape and Size of the Second Globe', in The Third
Globe: Symposium for the Reconstruction of the Third Globe Playhouse, Wayne
State University, 1979, ed. C. Walter Hodges, S. Schoenbaum and Leonard
Leone (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1981), pp. 82-107.
McCurdy, Peter. 'Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: The Construction of Two Experimental
Bays in June 1992', in The Timber Frame--From Preservation to Reconstruction:
Papers Presented at the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK Timber
Seminar Held at Haydock Park on 26 April 1993, ed. F. W. B. Charles (London:
Icomos UK, 1993), pp. 1-20.
Orrell, John. 'Beyond the Rose: Design Problems for the Globe Reconstruction',
in New Issues in the Reconstruction of Shakespeare's Theatre: Proceedings
of the Conference Held at the University of Georgia, February 16-18, 1990,
ed. Franklin J. Hildy (New York: Peter Lang, 1990), pp. 95-118.
Orrell, John. 'Peter Street at the Fortune and the Globe', Shakespeare
Survey, 33 (1980), 139-51.
Orrell, John. 'The Accuracy of Hollar's Sketch of the Globe', Shakespeare
Bulletin, 11.2 (1993), 5-9.
Orrell, John. The Quest for Shakespeare's Globe. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1983.
Orrell, John. The Human Stage: English Theatre Design, 1567-1640. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Orrell, John. 'Wenceslaus Hollar and the Size of the Globe Theatre', in
The Third Globe: Symposium for the Reconstruction of the Third Globe Playhouse,
Wayne State University, 1979, ed. C. Walter Hodges, S. Schoenbaum and
Leonard Leone (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1981), pp. 108-16.
Orrell, John, and Andrew Gurr. 'What the Rose Can Tell us', Times Literary
Supplement, 4497 9-15 June (1989), 636, 649.
Ronayne, John. 'Totus Mundus Agit Histrionem [The Whole World Moves the
Actor]: The Interior Decorative Scheme of the Bankside Globe', in Shakespeare's
Globe Rebuilt, ed. J. R. Mulryne, Margaret Shewring and Andrew Gurr (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 121-46.
Smith, Irwin. Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse: A Modern Reconstruction
in Text and Scale Drawings, Introd. James G. McManaway. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1956.
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