Seeing Shakespeare

Yesterday was a first for me. I finally got to see Shakespeare! My boyfriend said that I can’t actually see him -but why not? I saw people dressed as him and also his grave… good enough.

Yes, Stratford was a lovely day out and the perfect place for the complete Shakespearian geek like me. I let my inner geek out first thing in the morning as I took out my William Shakespeare bag out  – basically a small shopping bag with his head on. Haha. And I got out my Shakespeare trivia cards for the journey ; -) Luckily, my boyfriend’s Mum, my sister and good friend, weren’t put off and we all had a lovely day.

We saw four main places…. either walking or hopping on our partly open-top bus:

Shakespeare's birth place

Shakespeare’s birth place

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DSCF4584 Ann Hathaway’s pretty cottage – the place that she grew up in and where she and Will ‘courted’ as a young couple.

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Nash’s house. The house Shakespeare is believed to have spent his last days – belonging to his granddaughter and her husband. This is the beautiful garden outside the house.

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… And finally his grave in the Church of Holy Trinity.

It was all very historical and interesting. It was fascinating to see inside the houses and get an idea of what life was like then, in addition to just admiring the beauty of the outside. You could imagine Shakespeare walking up to Ann Hathaway’s cottage (which is actually a massive farm house and has fondly been referred to as a cottage because of idyllic appearance) to ‘court’ her. Would he have been nervous to see her family? And tipped his hat off to her father out of respect? We even saw the bed that Will may have had-a-way with our Hathaway 😉 The ‘cottage’ was so lovely, that I would have happily moved in (add some heating, electricity and take away the millions of nosy tourists of course 😉 ).

A personal highlight for me was the character room at Nash’s house. Naturally, a purpose built room for tourism – but it was great to see displays of the ‘top ten characters’ and you could add your own favourite Shakesspearian character to a board too.There was a quiz on the wall too! I felt like I was at some sort of Shakespeare convention – not a ‘Trekkie’ but a ‘Shakey’ if you will 😉 I added ‘Othello’ to the favourite character board. That is my favourite play and I love that Othello himself is a little different to other charcters. He is black, yet in an important position and very well-respected for the time period. He is a calm, collected and gentle character, yet jealousy results him in him murdering his own wife. I love the dramatic change in him throughout the play and shows, perhaps, that jealousy (or another strong emotion) can drive any of us to murder. Sadly Othello didn’t make their top-ten though:

Top Ten Characters

  1. Juliet (Romeo and Juliet)
  2. Hamlet (Hamlet)
  3. Bottom (A Midsummer’s Night Dream)
  4. Beatrice (Twelfth Night)
  5. Mercutio (Twelfth Night)
  6. Romeo (Romeo and Juliet)
  7. Falstaff (Henry IV part 1 and 2 and Merry Wives of Windsor)
  8. Macbeth (Macbeth)
  9. Henry V (Henry V)
  10. Cleopatra (Anthony and Cleopatra)

 

The hop-on, hop-off tour bus gave us much entertainment. One reason being, we went on the open-top section and it was freezing and blowy! We also kept having to duck when we passed trees (which was a lot), which was scary but also extremely funny! The tour guide on our bus (when we wimped out and sat inside the bus) was very informative and entertaining. She told us a few facts about general Tudor life:

  • As we drove past a road, she told us it used to be a popular highway. In wet conditions, it became very soft and poor people would come and ‘cup’ mud in their hand in order to make pots. This left many holes in the road… and you’ve guessed it, that’s where the term ‘pot-holes’ comes from!
  • Tudors used to use frog salvia to aid their sore-throats. Scientists have since found that there is infact an enzyme in frog saliva that has antisceptic in it. So they weren’t (too) crazy… and that is where the term ‘a frog in your throat’ comes from.
  • Four-poster beds became popular in Tudor times. I thought it was a warmth related reason. It comes from the fact they had hatched roofs though. There wasn’t any ceilings in bedrooms, so rubbish and bugs would fall from the hatching onto people in bed. Someone ( a man apparently -I’m not convinced!) invented the canopy like part in order to catch the bugs and rubbish. Clever! It then became a fashion statement too.
  • My favourite fact also links to the thatched roofing. When Tudors realised that thatching was a fire hazard, they all had to change to tiling. A team from the town committee went to an inn to tell the keeper that he had to change his roof to tiles. He gave them so much free ale that they forgot to ask him! So it is still thatched today:
Old Thatch Tavern

Old Thatch Tavern

 

So I had a very Shakespeare-y day and I loved every second! The nearby buildings were all named after Shakespeare quotes or plays or characters. I even had a milkshake called Much A Do About Oreo!

I fully recommend a day at Stratford to anyone who is interested in Shakespeare – even if you are not there is still so much to do. We paid £25 and this included the bus (which you can get on and off as much as you wish) and also the entry to 3 houses. There are still 2 main other houses to see and a boat trip that we didn’t do – so there is just so much! And I’ll be definitely going back….. no ‘to go or not to go’ question 😉

XSXS

 

For a recent post about Shakespeare’s birthday, take a look at this:

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/celebrate-this-23rd-april/

Off with your Head!

Hey people…

Since my day so far has been pretty boring and I just feel I am waiting to go on holiday now… I thought I would share with you one of my interests. I am a little bit obsessed by Henry VIII and his six wives… no it’s not boring! I, for one, hated history at school. But now that I have matured (a little!) and the learning of the subject is not forced upon me, I actually quite like certain eras quite a lot. It fits it quite nicely with English and Literature you see… and the Tudor period is the same time as Shakespeare. But that isn’t why I am fascinated by good old Hezza… it’s the fact that he seemed to be so attractively challenged yet managed to get six women to marry him. Six!

I started thinking about the old womaniser last night when the Olympic  closing ceremony was on. Not because he was such a budding athlete… even though I do believe he was pretty good at jousting and hunting and even tennis…. it was because they called our current Prince Harry, Henry. The Facebook updates were quite funny as they cried out that the BBC had made such a mistake and called our young prince by the wrong name! It’s like everyone was looking for something to go wrong or be said wrong! It is of course, his actual name. It then made me think of the Tudor king because people often referred to him as ‘Harry’ in his younger years at least. And I started thinking why? Why are Henrys called Harry and vice versa? There must be an actual reason out there, which I’ve not bothered to go out and research just yet… I’ll save it for a quiet evening when I have nothing better to do. It doesn’t make sense though does it? The name doesn’t even shorten by doing that? Hezza is much better… haha even though that doesn’t shorten either to be fair.. but definitely a more modern name for our current prince.

Back to Henry the VIII…. I was thinking that if he was a man living in today’s society then he would surely be on Jeremy Kyle. I can see the headline of the show now; ‘Man married six women… killed two, ditched two and one died having his baby!’ (His current beau.. good old Katherine Parr would be a guest on the show also!) I guess we have a lot to thank Henry for. There would be no D.I.V.O.R.CE song, would there? Would are population be dire? Think about it… if people were stuck with one person and never there was an option to get divorced then maybe they wouldn’t want to procreate? Then again there is always affairs… and that’s something else we learned from the saucy Tudors!

Who could resist that??

 My main fascination with his wives, lies with Anne Boleyn. She seemed such a rebel for the time and is painted in such a horrible light. Beheaded for many reasons.. one being incest… but what’s a bit of brotherly and sisterly love between family? I guess that’s the point! But the thing is, women were under so much pressure in those times to marry someone in order to support their family.. especially if they were poor. She was told to ‘seduce’ lucky Henry by her father and uncle and would have had no choice in the matter. Women were pawns in the market of marriage and wealth. She then had to produce a son to keep Henry’s love and interest. So even if she did succumb to her brother then it would have been to double her chances of falling pregnant and with a son. Very weird and slightly disgusting but if it is true then it shows how desperate she felt. Witch craft was another apparent offence…. because she had some miscarriages and they thought she was cursed. I tell ya, us women need to breathe sighs of relief that we don’t live in that era. She was also accused of having affairs.. yet Henry had them openly. Men were allowed to though *sarcastic eyebrow raised look*. It seemed six women in a lifetime wasn’t enough.

The six lucky ladies….

 I won’t go into all the wives but what I find so amusing about the whole story…. is that Henry’s one goal in life (apart from abolishing the catholic church)seemed to be to obtain a son to take over the throne. Yet who reigned for 45 years after his death? Elizabeth. A woman. His daughter. And Anne Boleyn’s daughter at that. His son? Edward VI managed a sickly six years. I’m not on my feminist high horse or anything here… poor Eddy can’t help the fact that he died so soon but I’m just saying that Henry had nothing to worry about because the one thing he wanted he didn’t need. A queen filled that gap just fine.

The much wanted son  

(Not bad for the daughter of an ‘incestuous witch’ eh??)

Anyway, I want to share a poem with you that I have written….see what you think…

Another One

Spain in my bed every night,

Such passion, such morals,

Loved by all.

But no boy. No boy. No son.

Out with the old, in with Boleyn,

Dangerous, excitable,

Hated by all.

And no boy, no boy, so no head.

See more, I need a new love,

A not so plain Jane,

Gentle, kind and loving,

And a boy! A boy!

But exchanged for death.

Tears make a river to the next,

Yet I like her not! I like her not!

Picture tells a different tale,

I judge the book by the cover.

Don’t read the full story.

 

How… I move for….ward,

Light and easy.  Young.

Unlike me.

Lots of boys.

But in her bed.

So off with her head!

Finally, last chance at love.

As I near the end.

Someone to care,

Like a daughter.

I can die now, it’s done.

I have a son.

(I did have this in six separate stanzas but couldn’t get it to stay like that on the post.. I was also wondering if it worked better like this though, as in, it doesnt stop; like Henry’s search for a wife doesn’t stop. What do you think?)

So remember ladies…. make sure you get knickerless or you could end up headless 😉

If any of you are interested in reading about the Tudor period; Alison Weir’s Six Wives is a good read. Also for you fiction lovers… Phillipa Gregory’s The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl and  The Boleyn Inheritance are a good historical-fiction trilogy.

See you tomorrow,

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