The Rose Revealed Project was created, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, by the Rose Theatre Trust, whose vision it is to uncover the complete footprint of the Elizabethan playhouse, to install an innovative conservation system to preserve the fragile monument for the futureand to build a visitor and arts centre that better exhibits and celebrates its history. The project will be realised first by focusing on the archaeological investigation and installation of the conservation system, followed by the construction of the visitor centre.
In June 2018 the Rose Theatre Trust secured the lease for the theatre site until 2042. With its long-term tenure now secure, the Trust is able to fundraise for The Rose Revealed Project. This will involve the support of corporate sponsors and donors, Friends of The Rose and, of course, the generosity of the general public. The site is on the ‘Monuments at Risk Register’, so it is important that these monies are raised in order to conserve the remains of Bankside’s first theatre.
Currently, the western part of The Rose is preserved beneath a temporary conservation system which was designed to last for only a few years following the discovery of the monument in archaeological work in 1989. It is intended that a bespoke conservation system will be installed across the whole playhouse, which will involve uncovering the fragile remains by removing the old system and carrying out a new archaeological excavation in the eastern area of the playhouse which was not investigated in 1989.
The new excavation will address questions arising from the 1989 excavation. One question concerns the means of access to the galleries which may have been in the form of an external stair tower or turret attached to the outer gallery wall on the eastern side of the playhouse. A second concerns the superstructure. The excavation will also provide information about the use of the site following demolition of The Rose in the 17th century. In summary, the archaeological investigation will provide a great deal of new information on the structural remains of The Rose and will contribute significantly to our understanding of the Elizabethan theatre and how it functioned. The many artefacts and organic remains that will be found and analysed will give new insight into the lives of the actors and audiences.
The major design challenge has been how to create an interesting and multi-functional space within the present Rose Court office building. The design of the new conservation system with a new floor over the preserved Rose some three meters below current street level will provide more space for visitor facilities, displays and events with new floors at both street and lower levels. The design celebrates and emphasises The Rose’s uniqueness, by enabling the monument itself to be the focus of the space. Visitors will learn about The Rose’s significance and history as they descend via a ramp to the lower floor and walk across the sealed remains. Displays of archaeological finds, interpretive displays, directional soundscapes and audio-visual stations set into the ramp and on the lower floor will tell the story of The Rose, Bankside and of the people who lived and worked there.
It is estimated that this project will take 2 ½ years to be fully delivered, from procurement to completion, though it might be possible to shorten the time-span at least marginally.