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Richard III and Football

A few years ago, when Leicester City won the Premier League, some people connected the success to the then-recent discovery of Richard’s remains in the city.

This is a fanciful idea. However, there are three major clubs that play in Richard’s colours.

Aston Villa This historic club is by far the largest in the Midlands. They have many, many honours, albeit most of them were collected in the 19th Century. Having said that, they are one of the few English teams to have won the European Cup, a feat achieved in 1982. They are currently languishing in the Championship, the second tier of English football. It is likely that such a large and important club will soon regain a Premier League place.

West Ham United. This club has long been noted for playing open attractive football. Its finest hour was perhaps 1966, when it provided three players (Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst) to the England side that won the World Cup. West Ham won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1965 and they have also won 3 FA Cups over the years, although never a top level Championship. Many people’s favourite London club, they recently moved into a new stadium at Stratford, forsaking their long-established and much-loved Boleyn Ground.

Burnley Currently the nearest Premier League club to Middleham. Burnley are a “small town” club who have never been able to attract the crowds of their big city rivals and have always had to operate on a budget, often making good use of youth products. At the time of writing they are rather closer to the foot of the table than their friends and supporters would wish. The won the top-flight championship for the one and only time in 1960. They have also won the FA Cup once. Given their limited resources, mere survival in the top tier is a brilliant achievement.




How we went around the mulberry tree….

Mulberry tree

Well now, apart from the old nursery rhyme, “Here we go round the mulberry tree”, what else do we know about the history of mulberries in England, except that the colour “murrey” is a contraction of the name? Here is a link (that contains other links) to tell you all about it, including that Shakespeare had a black mulberry tree in his garden at Stratford. It was felled in 1756, which James Boswell described as “an act of ‘gothick barbarity’ by the then owner of New Place, the Reverend Francis Gastrell. Apparently tired of continual visits by tourists asking to see the tree, Gastrell chopped it down. Having provoked the ire of Stratford residents, Gastrell left the town.”

London Charterhouse in 1756Painting of London Charterhouse alms-house (on the left) and boys’ school (around the large quadrangle to the right) in 1756, by an unknown artist.  Preacher’s Court is the curved open space to the left (east). The area of trees to the north would be Pardon Churchyard, referred to in the Letters Patent when the alms-house and school were founded. Charterhouse Square is seen in the foreground and was the burial site for tens of thousands of victims of the Black Death in the 14th century.


Shakespeare’s … Father

This interesting article shows how John Shakespeare, as Bailiff of Stratford-upon-Avon, was forced to paint over some mediaeval murals. As a clue to what really happened, remember that Michael Wood thinks both John and William Shakespeare to have been Catholics.

Let me reassure you that Henry VIII wasn’t still King sixteen years after he died, nor was William Shakespeare born thirty-eight years after he died – and long after his father died. The murals are so truly stunning that they are worthwhile despite the errata.3aae9bf400000578-3964086-the_colourful_murals_thought_to_be_some_of_the_finest_in_europe_-m-46_1479900631120

First Richard’s Remains – now the Bard’s Bones…

First Richard’s last resting place, and now Shakespeare’s. All you have to do is dig in from the side, thus not disturbing the stones. Then you can take a peek, but DO NOT MOVE DEM BONES!

The Bard's Bones

Yet another Shakespearean Richard….

Will Shakespeare

It seems (to me) that Richard III is practically the only Shakespeare play that can be guaranteed to be the aim of every theatre production company. Here’s another one, with the added interest of an invitation to seek the chance of joining in. Please note that it is not Stratford-upon-Avon, but one in the US, and there has been an interesting tussle over the property in which the theatre is situated.

Article by Janis Gibson, 21st February 2016, in Arts and Leisure Features, Stage & Screen:-

Brush up your Shakespeare! Academy accepting applications

Four hundred years after his death, the words of William Shakespeare continue to live on on the stage, in the classroom and in the hearts of many people around the world. They come together to learn, understand, interpret and perform his works or appreciate seeing them performed.

One such place is the Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford, which is now accepting applications. It’s a program launched three years ago as a project of The Mighty Quinn Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity “dedicated to creating educational and theatrical experiences for the next generation of theater artists.” Its home is the Nicoll-Benjamin House, known as the White House, on Elm Street, part of the 14-acre grounds of the former American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, currently town-owned and shuttered since 1989.

The academy brings together 14 college-age students (ages 19–23) for a six-week repertory program that culminates in the outdoor performance of two plays. This year Love’s Labour’s Lost and Richard III will be presented on alternate nights July 31 through Aug. 7. There will also be a daylong festival on Saturday, Aug. 6, celebrating Shakespeare 400 — anniversary events will be conducted around the world all year — during which both plays and A Midsummer Night’s Dream will performed.

“We invite the public to come and enjoy a picnic on the grounds, dress in costume if they like, and stay for any or all of the performances,” said Susan Wright, president of the foundation.

The Mighty Quinn Foundation was established by Wright and her husband Chris Rooney in honor of their son Quinn Rooney, who died in 2012 from a brain tumor at the age of 19. “Quinn had a passion for learning, loved the theater in general and was fascinated by the history of the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, which is visible from our backyard, and hoped to see it revitalized,” said Wright. “In his memory, we wanted to help fill a theater niche for young people and reached out to the town, which has been very receptive. It has recently asked us to take over the summer In the Spotlight musical theater program for seventh through 12th graders, which are honored to do. Quinn loved being a part of the program.

“Applications for those seeking an ensemble experience are now open through April 1,” she continued. “This this means working together to create the end result. In most cases, a play’s director has a vision of the desired end result and the actors strive to meet it. In ensemble, the participants are very involved in the creative process and end result. I also want to stress that we want a diverse group, the best people who know Shakespeare’s text and love it — Shakespeare geeks seeking the ensemble experience knowing they will be together virtually 24/7 for six weeks — not necessarily the best actors. We seek those who are willing to take a chance, to stretch themselves. While we certainly want a good production, our goal is to give students their best experience, artistically and personally; we want to be part of their journey, a valued experience that lets them grow.

“The foundation provides scholarships, training, artistic programming and creative opportunities within the community, with the goal of providing opportunities for artists to learn, grow and perform,” Wright explained. “The Shakespeare Academy at Stratford is a stand-alone project of the foundation, and is a member of The Shakespeare Theatre Association. We recruit from around the country, and around the world. Last year we had students from the United States, Singapore, the Czech Republic and England.

“Applicants are asked why they believe in ensemble; what do you believe in? Quinn had a joyful and generous spirit. We ask for a video — tell us about something you love. We have been amazed by the depth of many of the applicants’ skill sets. One, for example, played the guitar and wrote and performed music for her play; another played the harp, which was worked into a show.”

The selection of students is made by the artistic team, this year led by Artistic Director Brian McManamon, who will direct Love’s Labour’s Lost; and Associate Artistic Director Tia James, who will direct Richard III. They are supported by a half-dozen master class teachers, program coordinator Kelly Letourneau, technical coordinator Jacob Nurick and residential coordinator Brendan Rooney.

McManamon learned about the Shakespeare @ Stratford Academy from a Yale Rep classmate who had been involved in The Mighty Quinn Foundation’s New Works Festival “and had only wonderful things to say about the experience. It was exactly the kind of thing I was interested in. When I met Susan, Chris and some of the others involved in the program, I was even more interested, it’s an exciting proposition. And it will be wonderful to spend the summer in Connecticut; the Shakespeare on the Housatonic site is magical.”

McManamon describes himself as “steeped in Shakespeare; it’s one of my biggest passions. When I had a class on him in high school, it opened up my scope.

“I am looking forward to working with Tia, who is incredible, as well as with what I know will be a dynamic group of people expanding their theater and leadership capabilities. I encourage the public to come see the shows this summer and experience the magic themselves.”

Love’s Labour’s Lost and Richard III will be presented July 31 through Aug. 7, the Shakespeare 400 Festival is Aug. 6, at 1850 Elm Street in Stratford. For additional information, visit or


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