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Beginnings: Early times to 1560

Buildings and Cityscape

Entertainment Locations

By Eila Williamson

Prior to 1560 there were no purpose-built entertainment buildings in Glasgow, although it is quite possible that entertainments took place within buildings. The Bishop's Palace may have been one such venue, but evidence is lacking. The "place of solace" where the interlude (a short play or something similar) was performed by masters and students of Glasgow University at their St Nicholas festivities in the 15th century is not defined specifically enough. It was likely to have been in the close vicinity of the College buildings of the Arts Faculty and was perhaps out-of-doors.

Playing places were often outdoor venues. The palestram de Glesgw lusoriam (Glasgow's playground) consisted of lands between the Briggait (Bridgegate) and River Clyde, and from Stockwell Street to St Enoch's burn. While it is possible that plays were performed here there is nothing in the extant records to indicate that it was dramatic rather than sporting activities which took place.

A record from 1557 refers to "ly caichepule" (where the handball game of "caich" was played) as being south of the manse of the rector of Ashkirk, to the east of the lands of the hospital of St Nicholas and to the west of the lands of the chaplainry of St Thomas the Martyr. To the south was the land or tenement of Andrew Coitis (Coats) and beyond that the Drygait. This was the area of the Isle Toothie, near to the Rottenrow. As with other burghs the mercat cross would have provided a focal point at which entertainments may have taken place. There were also archery butts in Gallowmuir.

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