Box Office Bears:
Box Office Bears:  Archaeology, Archives, Performance

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Box Office Bears explores the widespread, surprising, and sometimes alarming recreational interactions between humans and animals in Shakespeare’s time.

Animal baiting in early modern England

Join us to discover more about historical bears and dogs: where did they come from and where did they go? How were they treated? What did they eat? Where did they grow up? How and when did they die?

These are some of the questions we invite you to explore with us…

Our team are continuously working on our archive of resources and blog posts as well as planning events around the Box Office Bears project. Here are our most recent additions.

Meet Our Team


Spernellus the Medieval Bearward

The history of bear baiting in England extends further back in time to the medieval period. In this blog post, Dr Will Wyeth, Properties Historian at English Heritage, reveals the fascinating history of a certain Spernellus, a bearward from medieval Richmond who appears in official medieval records.



The Case of the Missing Bear Bones

The Case of The Missing Bear Bones was a series of six drama and improvisation workshops for the local community in Rotherhithe, culminating in a bear-tastic showing for an invited audience. This project was a partnership between London Bubble, Box Office Bears and myself – Theatre Maker & Writer Angela Clerkin – in February-March 2024.



Mythic Bears

In January and February 2024, Angela Clerkin of ClerkinWorks used BOB’s research as a springboard for creative writing workshops for the LGBTQ+ community. Here is how it turned out!



Bears in Nottingham

Find out about the history of bears in Nottingham by downloading our bear-map. It was designed by Owen Keefer as part of the Being Human Festival 2023.

Box Office Bears & Animal Cruelty

The questions we pose about the past do not just belong to the past; while the practices described here might seem bizarre and even barbaric, Animal cruelty is still rife across the UK and the world today. We encourage you to donate to our partner the Badger Trust, which provides support against animal cruelty.


The Beginnings of London Commercial Theatre, c. 1565-1595

Before Shakespeare

How and why did the public playhouses come to open in London in the sixteenth century?

Our sister site Before Shakespeare looks at what happens when we concentrate on the beginnings of playhouses, in the early years of Elizabeth’s reign, rather than seeing them as late sixteenth-century phenomena?