On Sunday 2nd July some seventy Freemasons of Warwickshire paraded, in full regalia, through the streets of Stratford, for the first time since 1929, and they were joined in their parade by the Lord Mayor of Stratford Victoria Alcock.
The procession commenced at Shakespeare's Birthplace and proceeded through Stratford upon Avon to Shakespeare's New Place. Here they were greeted by the CEO of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Dr Diana Owen and there followed a dedication of Shakespeare's Desk and Chair in the gardens. The Desk and Chair have been donated by the Freemasons of the United Grand Lodge of England, who celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry in 2017 and also by the Freemasons of Warwickshire to mark their commitment to the community of Stratford. The Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire, David Macey, formally handed over the Desk and Chair after the conclusion of the ceremony.
This was the first Freemasons Procession through Stratford upon Avon since 2nd July 1929, when Freemasons led by Lord Ampthill processed through the town and held a ceremony to mark the laying of the foundation stone of Shakespeare's Memorial Theatre.
Freemasons processing through Stratford in 1929
Shakespeare’s New Place was his family home from 1597 until he died in the house in 1616. The house was demolished in 1759, a registered garden has been designed to commemorate the importance of the site and allow visitors to make their own personal connection with Shakespeare. When Shakespeare bought New Place he was an established playwright and it is believed that he wrote his later plays there, including The Tempest.
You can follow in Shakespeare’s footsteps through a new entrance on the site of the original gatehouse and enjoy a contemporary landscape that reveals the footprint of the Shakespeare family home. The re-imagined site gives an impression of the scale of New Place and relationship to the surrounding buildings; such as the neighbouring King Edward VI School and Guild Chapel that were once attended by a young Shakespeare.
Commissioned artworks and displays throughout the site evoke a sense of family life and hint at Shakespeare’s major works that were written during the 19 years he owned New Place. To find out more about Shakespeare's New Place you can visit The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website at: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/shakespeares-new-place/
Shakespeare’s Desk and Chair – by Simon Kenny
Shakespeare’s Desk and Chair are an integral part of the Heart of the Home, lying within the hornbeam circle and next to His Mind’s Eye, and looking back towards the Golden Garden of New Place, representing his life’s work. Carved from wood, and cast in bronze at The Morris Singer Foundry - the oldest fine art foundry in the world, Shakespeare’s Desk and Chair depict his life as a working writer, the power of his creativity and, as visitors will be able to sit in the chair, it will be an evocative focal point.