Friday, 12 August 2016

A little bit of Shakespeare (sort of)

As it's summer here, I've been travelling around visiting some of my favourite places and those places on my wish list.  I love going to Stratford-Upon-Avon, and find myself going to re-visit every couple of years.  Of course, with it being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, Stratford was on my to do list.  For a start, there was a new exhibition at the birthplace, with Shakespeare's actual will on show, borrowed from the National Archives. (unfortunately, it's now been returned ).   Also, for the first time, Shakespeare's grammar school was open to the public, and is well worth a visit (more on that in a later post).   However, for me, the real gem was a visit to Harvard House.  I must have walked past it many times, and just thought it another Tudor house in Stratford.   It's in High Street.   It has no actual connection to Shakespeare, other than he would have known the occupants of the house.  It was built in 1596 by Thomas Rogers.  Rogers was an Alderman and served alongside Shakespeare's father.   He was a successful cattle and corn merchant.   Rogers daughter Katherine married Robert Havard of Southwark.  Their son John emigrated to  America.  John founded an education establishment that went on to be Harvard University.  Unbelievably, in the early 1900s, Stratford council wanted to 'modernise' the property, and thanks to novelist Maria Corelli's campaign to save it, it was purchased and given to Harvard University.  It's been restored and is now part of the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust.   It's well worth a visit to see how a Tudor house actually was in the 1590s.  Here are some of my pictures.

 Here's the house from the outside.  Note the US flag.
 Inside the house, an example of wattle and daub used to build the house.
                                                        A bedroom in the house.  
 An escape hatch built into the roof.  The house did not have a thatched roof, but being aware of fires in the house in general, an escape hatch was built.
 Some of the original 'wallpaper', made of a certain paste and a stencil used to draw a repeating pattern.  Using the original, the rest of the wall has been restored.
Original Tudor furniture commonly found in merchant houses.

And yes, I did go to Warwick castle, scene of Pier's downfall.   I visited the dungeon, shuddered, and hoped once again that Guy of Warwick kept him in the prisoners rooms above.  Somehow, I doubt it.


Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Hi Anerje! It has been a while :) I'm happy to read that you're enjoying a "travelling" summer. I too spend my time with my family taking trips and sightseeing and reading Henry the Young King biography. I intent to return to regular posting as soon as I finish it, meaning the opening days of September, I guess :) Take care, dear friend :)

PS Recently my hubby and I watched an interesting BBC documentary on Anne Boleyn, which made me think of you :)

Anerje said...

Hi Kasia - just got back from Scarborough- so expect a post on the castle soon. Glad you're immersed in the Young King's bio. Hope it's every thing you expected. Was the documentary 'The Last Days of Anne Boleyn'? Bit of a mixed bag - I always enjoy David Starkey.