Fact or fiction? Shakespeare at Charlecote

You may have heard the story. Around 1583, according to legend, Shakespeare was caught poaching here in Sir Thomas Lucy I’s park. Years later he is said to have had his revenge by portraying Sir Thomas as the fussy Justice Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor

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The young poacher was brought before Sir Thomas, the resident magistrate, in the Great Hall at Charlecote. If this is the case he would probably have been fined, possibly flogged and perhaps threatened with banishment. Shakespeare wrote a rude verse about the knight and stuck it to the gateway, before later fleeing to London to seek his fame and fortune!

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There is no conclusive evidence one way or another of this story. Sylvia has been exploring the legend further on The Shakespeare Blog

There are many legends about Shakespeare’s life, but none is more compelling than that linking him with Charlecote Park, near Stratford-upon-Avon.

Local historian Dr Robert Bearman has just sent me details of a new publication that relates to it:

Anyone interested in Shakespeare’s life will have come across reference to his alleged youthful deer-stealing activities at Charlecote Park, leading to a life-long feud between him and the local lord, Sir Thomas Lucy. There have  always been problems with this story, not least that the Lucy family didn’t  seek official consent to create a park at Charlecote until 1615. Undeterred,  later purveyors of local folklore shifted the scene of the crime to  neighbouring Fulbrook where there *was* a park, or at least a run-down one, during Shakespeare’s childhood. The problem here was…

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