Hiram College

Written by Amber Bessner ’19

This blog post was written in response to the Study Abroad trip to United Kingdom led by Professors Rick Hyde and Paul Gaffney.

In Stratford-upon-Avon, there is a new place for lovers of Shakespeare to go explore and learn about his life and career. Though the whole city has that vibe of being Shakespeare-land with the numerous yellow Shakespeare face signs in the middle of the division of the road, the true meaning to this theme park (without the rides) would come from the history of the area and how they choose to honor it.

In the city, there are a handful of places that we, the study abroad group, personally visited while we were in Shakespeare-land. Most of locations that we went into are more supported by the history of Shakespeare’s life, some of those places included the schoolroom that he was educated in English and Latin, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (Shakespeare’s wife, not the modern day actress), Holy Trinity Church (where Shakespeare’s grave is located), and Shakespeare’s Birthplace. But, the place that drew me in the most was not any of those four places, it was one more grounded in art and nature, than in history. Unoriginally, the name of this location is called Shakespeare’s New Place.

New Place has an enormous amount of Shakespeare references everywhere you step once you walk through the large golden gates. From the metal sepultures, the sonnets amended in metal between the bricks in the courtyard, to even where the original foundation of the building hundreds of years ago. That is the reason why the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has placed this new place at this site.  It is said that William Shakespeare wrote some of his last plays in what would have been a house before it was demolished.

It was connected to our travel group, because one of the plays that we read for the trip was The Tempest, which is the last play that he wrote himself. Before we embarked on our adventure across the pond we read four plays that would broadly examine his life and the Tempest was the way for us to see the last portion of his life.  This could be the reason why there is a silver sailing ship closer to the gates when you walk through them as a way to pay homage to The Tempest. However, that wasn’t the only play that was put on the spotlight at this site. If you went further into New Place, there are two gardens. One is a traditional knot garden that was all the rage during Shakespeare’s time. It has a plethora of dark purple tulips and some other bright flowers to contrast against the darker flowers that they placed in the knot garden to give it dimension.

After you walk past the knot garden, there is the great garden. This garden seemed as though it had a sculpture for every play that Shakespeare wrote. These sculptures were everywhere on the large patch of grass to surround and decorate it. There are a few trees in the great garden as well to give this garden a little oomph, but I think the true purpose of the two gardens would be to see the beauty and to feel the tranquility of nature in the urban area that New Place is in.

If you personally want to find out more about New Place, you can visit the website.