The remains of Shakepeare's Curtain Theatre, which is reputed to have staged the debut of Romeo and Juliet, are discovered in east London.

The theatre first opened in 1577

The Curtain Theatre was home to William Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, before they settled at the Globe and staged several of Shakespeare's plays including the debut of Romeo and Juliet.

The site was discovered after its owners, Plough Yard Developments bought the site for redevelopment.

Chris Thomas, a senior consultant for Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), which excavated the site, said: "We started excavating the site last year but we weren't entirely sure where the remains of the theatre lay.

"We found the inner wall of the theatre whose dimensions show that it is the actual remains of the site.

"The theatre opened in 1577 and closed some time in the 17th century, when the main timber structure was taken down.

"Named after the nearby Curtain Close, it was the main venue for Shakespeare's plays between 1597 and 1599 until the Globe was completed in Southwark.

"The Curtain Theatre disappears from the historic record in 1622 but it may have remained in use until the Civil War."

Plans are now being drawn up by Plough Yard to make the theatre's remains the centrepiece of a new development, including homes, offices and shops.

Eddie Raymayne, who won last year's Critics Circle Theatre Awards for Best Shakespearian Performance with his Richard II performance at the Donmar Warehouse, said:

"The discovery of The Curtain is a thrilling prospect particularly in this year of the World Shakespeare Festival. With The Globe and The Rose having helped add such cultural vibrancy to Borough, I'm excited to see what the exploration of this exceptional site will unearth and bring to this already brilliant area of the capital."