Props in Henslowe’s Diary

I am knee-deep in Shakespeare right now, with this year’s Shakespeare in the Park featuring two Shakespeare in repertory. While A Winter’s Tale and Merchant of Venice prepare to open next week, I thought I’d share some more information about the props in Shakespeare’s time.

I’ve written previously about what the props in Shakespeare’s time might have been. Henslowe’s Diary provides a list of the props in storage at Henslowe’s Rose Theatre. Though his diary does not mention Shakespeare, he was a contemporary and his theatre was similar in size and organization. I gave an excerpt of what was on that list, but since then, I’ve dug up the list in its entirety:

  • One rock, one cage, one tomb, one hell mouth.
  • One tomb of Guido, one tomb of Dido, one bedstead.
  • Eight lances, one pair of stairs for Phaeton.
  • Two steeples and one chime of bells and one beacon.
  • One globe and one golden scepter.
  • Two marchpanes, and the City of Rome.
  • One golden fleece, two rackets, and one bay tree.
  • One wooden hatchet, one leather hatchet.
  • One wooden canopy, old Mahomet’s head.
  • One lion skin, one bear’s skin and Phaeton’s limbs and Phaeton’s chariot and Argosse’ head.
  • Neptune fork and garland.
  • One crosier staff, Kent’s wooden leg.
  • Jerosses head and rainbow, one little altar.
  • Eight visors, Tamberlayne bridel, one wooden mattock.
  • Cupid’s bow and quiver, the Cloth of the Sun and Moon.
  • One boar’s head and Cerberus three heads.
  • One caduceus, two moss banks and one snake.
  • Two fanes of feathers, Belendon stables, one tree of golden apples, Tantelus tree, nine iron targets.
  • One copper target, seventeen foiles.
  • Four wooden targets, one greave armor.
  • One sign for Mother Redcap, one buckler.
  • Mercury’s wings, Tasso pictures, one helmet with a dragon, one shield with three lions, one elm bowl.
  • One chain of dragons, one gilt spear.
  • Two coffins, one bull’s head.
  • Three timbrels, one dragon in fostes.
  • One lion, two lion heads, one great horse with his legs, one sackbutt.
  • One wheel and frame in the siege of London.
  • One pair of wrought gloves.
  • One Pope’s miter.
  • Three Imperial crowns, one plain crown.
  • One frame for the heading in Black Jone.
  • One ghost’s crown and one crown with a sun.
  • One black dog.
  • One caldron for the Jew.

Maybe at some point, I’ll look into what some of these props actually were.