Robert Tittler (Concordia University)
Early Theatre, 1.1 (1998): 39-54 (paper). Article 4.
Henry Hardware has become familiar to many theatre historians as the mayor who destroyed the traditional processional figures in the Midsummer Show in Chester, and thus as an exemplar of anit-theatrical activity amongst the Puritan magistracy of the time. A closer look at both Hardware and the condition of Chester itself suggests some of the complexities behind such activity.
Thanks to the colourful and dramatic nature of his actions as mayor of Chester, revealed especially in the pages of Lawrence Clopper’s REED volume on that city, Henry Hardware has become a familiar exemplar of Puritan-inspired attacks on drama and other festive activities. It was Hardware after all, who
caused the Gyanntes, in the Mydsomer show to be put downe & broken and not to got, The devill in his feathers….he put Awaye, and the Cuppes and Cannes. And dragon and Naked boys…he caused the bull Ringe to be taken pup And Leave Lookers were restrayned, for sendinge wine Accordinge to the Aunciente use and Custome of this Cittye.
But Hardware’s curtailment of these festivities has thus been far the whole extent of his fifteen minutes of fame in historical scholarship.