London theatre crowds tucked into fish



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'A whelk, a whelk, my kingdom for a whelk,' was the cry in Tudor times, probably
London theatre crowds tucked into fish.

THEATRE-goers used to gorge themselves on fish-based snacks in Shakespeare's time, according to archaeologists studying the site of the Rose Playhouse on the South Bank.

These days you'd get a nasty look for rustling a packet of crisps during a West End show, but in the Tudor and Stuart era audiences piled into plates of crabs, cockles, mussels, oysters and whelks (pictured) and if they had a shell-fish allergy, there were plenty of fruit and nut nibbles available instead.

In their new book The Rose and The Globe: Playhouses of Shakespeare's Bankside, archaeologists Julian Bowsher and Pat Miller tell how they have found numerous pips, seeds and fish shells during their digs.

Slightly disappointing they didn't find evidence of rotten tomatoes, but that probably has something to do with the fact they weren't around in Britain at the time. The New World fruit hadn't been introduced over here by then.




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