Shakespeare and his company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, built the Globe Theatre in 1599. Well established by then with a decade’s worth of successful plays, Shakespeare was the largest shareholder of the new enterprise, which for the first time enabled actors to take a share of the profits of the plays they produced.

The Globe was built on the south side of the Thames to avoid the restrictions on the north of the river imposed by the City of London. It would seat three thousand paying customers – a penny to stand, tuppence to sit, a thruppenny bit for a seat and a cushion – and was a most successful enterprise until it burned down in 1613 as a result of an actual cannon used in a production of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. It was rebuilt the following year, even more splendidly than before.

The Puritans pulled it down – along with all other theatres in England – in 1644. The present structure was built in 1997 based on the plans for the original building discovered only eight years earlier. I have longed wanted to see the rebuilt structure and on Wednesday, we did, much to my delight. On the way we strolled through the Borough Market: a veritable assault of colours, smells and tastes.

We then walked over the Thames on the new Millennial Bridge and walked through the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral, built by Sir Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London in 1666. We stopped have a look through St. Mary-le-Bow, home to the famous Bow Bells, also built by Wren, and stopped by Ye Olde Watling, a pub built by Wren to house and feed the workers on his many projects. The pub was packed so we opted to have lunch at Williamson’s Tavern down a tiny cul-de-sac instead that we had discovered on a previous trip to London.

Suitably refreshed we walked through Leadenhall Market on our way to the Tower of London and across the Tower Bridge. Everywhere we went we were impressed with how the clean the city was and how the deliberated restricted lack of traffic allowed us to walk freely among the lanes, monuments, and markets of the old city. We finished up on the south bank again, strolling through the Christmas market stalls on the embankment with their dizzying assortment of cuisines from around the world.

Looking back across the Thames we could see the new London skyline arising as striking and majestic as it has been throughout history. On the return train ride home, we once again celebrated being able to do this so easily and so cheaply from Horsham. The one-hour train ride to London was $15 Canadian and the trains are clean, fast, and frequent. The terminals at London Bridge and Victoria Station are both in the heart of the city, making exploration of the city a wonderfully joyous adventure.