Reviving Shakespeare: 1769 Jubilee

A few days ago we shared a post from The Shakespeare Blog about the poaching legend and whether it is fact or fiction?

Basic RGBAs it is Shakespeare Week, we thought we’d continue the theme. We were wondering, if this story isn’t necessarily true, why is is remembered so widely? It would seem that another member of the Lucy family could be accountable for this…

Sir Thomas Lucy I was the chap who owned the park when Shakespeare was reputed to have been poaching, but it was his great-great-great-grandson George Lucy who happily revived the story at the Shakespeare Jubilee, 1769. It was this Jubilee celebration, held in nearby Stratford, which re-established Shakespeare’s reputation as England’s greatest playwright.

We have a portrait of David Garrick hanging in our library. But who was he and why is he hanging there?!


Garrick was an actor and the leading player in staging the Jubilee celebration of 1769. He had the original idea for the celebration when approached by the town’s leaders who wanted him to fund a statue of Shakespeare to stand in the Town Hall. Mr Garrick planned the major celebration which had figures from London’s cultural, political and economic world attending. This was the first jubilee celebration of Shakespeare’s life and one that we continue to celebrate to this day in Statford on the weekend nearest to Shakespeare’s birthday.

The painting in our library is not the original but a copy of the renowned picture. The portrait was destroyed by fire at the Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon. The original was the first work that Garrick commissioned from Gainsborough. The pose is a conscious tribute to Scheemakers’s celebrated statue on the poet’s monument in Westminster Abbey. It was exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1766, and after the exhibition, Garrick allowed Gainsborough to take the picture back and rework it, so it could be sold to the Corporation of Stratford for the Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769.

 Next time you’re here, take a moment to find him.

Did you know?
It was this link to Shakespeare and the Jubilee that persuaded the National Trust to take on the estate when it was gifted in 1946.


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