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Friday, 15 November 2013

In search of Shakespeare's Grave



The house where he was born seemed a good enough start.



 But where next - the room he was born in? The trail is cold.




Time to ask a policeman.


 Well, we found where he died


Then some one suggested following the river.



We asked some swans



But their beaks were closed.



 This looked hopeful

 A graveyard at least. 



 Am I reading this right? The grave is Open? Seems a bit macabre to me


The excitement mounts



The altar of Holy Cross Church


 And here is where he was christened. The font was retrieved from a farmer's field where it had been used as a water trough for cattle.

And here is where he was buried, along with....


The rest of the family...well almost.

Shakespeare, Ann Hathaway, his Son– in–Law, and Susanna, his eldest daughter are buried here, along with a grandson. But Judith his second daughter isn’t, and where she is we don’t know. It’s interesting, too, that Judith was illiterate but Susanna wasn’t, and unquestionably sad that she married such a rogue as Thomas Quiney. He impregnated another woman who died in childbirth, and in consequence Shakespeare struck him from his Will. This was tricky because then a wife’s property belonged to her husband, so Shakespeare’s lawyers had to be clever. 

Judith is also interesting because of her longevity – 1585 – 1662. She would have been three years old at the time of the Spanish Armada, and then gone to experience the reign of Charles I, the Civil War, Cromwell’s Protectorate and live to see the Restoration ie Charles II

 I turned back to Anne Hathaway’s grave and remembered what once used to puzzle me: why Shakespeare left her his ‘second best bed’. The best bed was always reserved for important guests. The second best bed was in fact the marital bed.

I sensed someone watching me, perhaps reading my thoughts: 


It was time to go and write what we saw before he did.

8 comments:

DRC said...

Aw, I love reading your historical posts. They're always so interesting :) Makes me want to go off and do some research...

Mike Keyton said...

Makes me want to go off and do some research...

My job here is done :) Thanks, Dawn.

Jeanne said...

Written not as a tourist, but as a pilgrim. Lovely! And the photos are simply gorgeous! Thank you for taking us along.

Mike Keyton said...

Thanks, Jeanne. We had a wonderful two days in Stratford, and if this Richard II ever appears on a live feed/big screen go for it. David Tennant dominated the stage - in a good way.

Claudia Del Balso said...

Thank you for sharing these fabulous photos and for such interesting info on Shakespeare. When I visit churches, graveyards, museums, I wonder how much of what they say it's really accurate. History is sometimes half speculation and half facts. Am I wrong?

LD Masterson said...

I've always been intrigued by the possible reasons behind the "second best bed".

Mike Keyton said...

Claudia, sometimes it's half speculation, sometimes it's more than that. But even when you have most of the facts, interpreting them is like doing a jigsaw with a kalaidascope. Different historians will always have their own slang.

Mike Keyton said...

Linda, I'm glad I've put your mind to rest. Now I'm wondering who I'm going to leave my second best bed to :)