Spooks and scares at Shakespeare’s Globe
Hear ghoulish stories from Globe staff as they recall frightening encounters from around the building
We know that Shakespeare loved a ghostly character and a spooky scene, but what about Shakespeare’s Globe today? Let us delve into some of the spine-tingling moments our staff have experienced whilst working around the site.
Did you know that beneath the Globe we have basement full of corridors and doors? It can feel like you’re in a labyrinth and it’s very easy to get lost down there. Our Retail team members often venture into the basement to fetch stock to refill our lovely shop. However, when the team had key locks on the stockrooms, they did have a number of incidences of key bending – and our Head of Retail, Meghan, experienced this happening first hand:
‘You would enter the stockroom, leaving the door open and the key in the lock. After picking the stock you’d come back to the door to re-lock it to find the key bent at right angles to the lock. This was reported to have happened to someone in all the stockrooms in the basement. These were chunky keys too. I did try (with a witness) to recreate this – perhaps the trolley had knocked it? But I could not get the keys to bend, nor could I bend them back. Spooky huh?’
And the strangeness doesn’t end there, a Retail Assistant came up from the basement very shaken and reported that they had seen a headless man in stockroom two! (To be fair, maybe they just wanted to grab their own Shakespeare Rubber Duck…).
As is suitable, some ghoulish goings on have happened after hours, when the lights are being turned off and the doors locked. But for our Security team monitoring the site 24 hours a day, they can encounter strange presences when they assume no one else is around… One team member tells when walking from the attic, above the stage, round to the North tower of the Globe Theatre, he can always feel something, or someone, walking behind him. The hairs on the back of his neck go up. It’s always around midnight, and only ever in that part of the theatre.
Our Access Manager, David, can confirm this supernatural presence. In the early days of working at the Globe he had quite the theatrical experience:
‘When I first started working at the Globe, my job was to lock up, and I had to switch off all the lights and lock all the doors. So, I went by myself and there was a particularly difficult-to-get-to part of the attic which I had to crawl into to switch off the lights. It was only week two of the job, but for the first time I noticed there was an array of offerings to Bacchus and Dionysus. In true horror movie fashion, I chose that opportunity to speak to myself and I said ‘Yeah right, I bet Dionysus comes here often for a quick quaff’, laughed at it, properly laughed at it, felt a distinct drop in temperature and thought ‘I’m just going to leave this well enough alone’. Switched off the lights, locked the door, thought nothing more of it. That night, I had a nightmare. It was about locking up the theatre. In my nightmare, I was in the attic once again, and I had my back to the crawl spaces as I was locking the door. I could just feel the presence of this giant, angry shadow behind me. There was this voice… obviously this is a dream still, it wasn’t a physical voice, more of a voice inside my head. It said ‘No laughing’. And I knew it was Dionysus. Woke up, cold sweats, thought ‘you scared youself silly at work’. Next night at work comes, half ten at night, have to lock up, I’m back in the attic. And I sort of nod in acknowledgement to the offerings to Dionysus. That is, I am far more respectful of them now. As I close the doors to the backstage lift, someone has put up a sign which reads ‘No laughing’. And it freaked me out. I hadn’t told anyone about the dream, it was clearly someone backstage trying to get the cast to make sure they behave themselves side stage. It probably was there the night before, but I just had no recollection of it. Probably it seeped into my subconscious, but I swear it hadn’t. So, it’s not a ghost story, but it is the spookiest thing that has happened to me here by a long shot.’
Speaking of Actors and Stage Managers, rumour has it that during the very first dress rehearsal of the very first show at the Globe (way back in the 90s), a photo was taken from the stage of the galleries of the Globe Theatre. The story goes that, despite it being a closed rehearsal, with no access to the theatre, somewhere in the middle gallery, there were two figures dressed in Tudor clothes. The word had obviously gotten round that the Globe was open for business again. Perhaps they were wondering what new plays might have been written since they last attended.
It seems that spooks and strangeness lurks in all parts of our site from basement to attic. Have you had any ghoulish encounters at the Globe? Though if you had to pick a place to haunt, we think Shakespeare’s Globe makes for quite the special spot.