The Virtual Paul's Cross Project

Visit the Virtural Paul's Cross Project at NC State
Several years ago Dabbs went to see a play at the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London, a production of Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream." Not bad.

When exiting after the performance, he took a moment to look north over the Thames at St Paul's Cathedral, and it struck him just how big the cathedral is, how it looms over the current day Globe on the south side of the river.

The current day cathedral, of course, is Christopher Wren's design, and not the same cathedral that would have been across the river from the original Globe theatre. Dabbs became more and more curious about the cathedral and its environment during the time of Shakespeare, how what was then a different but large and imposing building surrounded by booksellers must have been a theatrical place itself, and must have had a relationship with Shakespearean drama in much smaller theatres, just across the Thames and elsewhere.

As it turned out, others have been conducting research on St Paul's and the surrounding precinct before Wren. In particular, John Wall at N.C. State university has assembled a team to recreate a portion of the cathedral environment, the open air Paul's Cross preaching pulpit that was located on the northeast side of the cathedral.

In Dabbs' view, this area had a great deal to do with the beginnings of the public theatre and the making of plays during the Elizabethan period. In fact, Shakespeare may have inherited a template for play making that has its roots in Paul's Cross Churchyard and the preaching environment there.

The reconstructed pulpit and churchyard, including samples of a sermon delivered by John Donne can be found here.

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