For the first time in more than 500 years, the worlds of Shakespeare and the Stanley Family (Lord & Lady Derby from Knowsley Hall) collided once more in Prescot on Merseyside recently.
Edward Stanley the 19th Earl of Derby, his wife Lady Derby and other family members went on site at The Shakespeare North Playhouse. They were keen to observe the progress made on The Playhouse – a project inspired by their ancestral connections to the world’s most famous playwright William Shakespeare.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Earls of Derby were well known as theatrical patrons and Lord Strange, the fifth Earl of Derby maintained a troupe of actors, or players as they were known, called Strange’s Men. These actors performed Shakespeare’s plays at the Rose Theatre in London and almost certainly at the residences of the Stanley family, which included Knowsley Hall.
During this time, Prescot was the only place outside London to be home to a theatre, or Playhouse as it was called, and the new theatre being built in the town today will recreate the intimate Cockpit in Court design by Inigo Jones.