Forgive the length of this post. On a positive note, it is mostly photos, so you can skim through at knuckle-breaking speed!
Perhaps this post is fitting for the time, as Harry Potter fever is upon us again. I am currently at the very beginning of the saga, listening to The Philosopher’s Stone as read by the glorious Stephen Fry. Hopefully there are those among you who are in the mood for a little history, magic and mystery.
The Falstaff Experience is located on one of Stratford’s oldest streets, where the cobbles are the same ones on which Shakespeare would have walked (and he may have done - there was once a popular pub down this street. Who knows - perhaps it was once a lane for other…entertainments)
The house is 500 years old and visitors can wander the rooms through scenes depicting life and death in Tudor England. The first thing that greets you, after a large wooden door with a painted red X and a sign reading “Lord have mercy on our souls,” is a shadowy view of Death hovering over a plague cart.
And so it begins, through disease and old medicine, when doctors wore long-nosed masks packed with bouquets of herbs thought to offer protection from sickness. Past the Tudor dentist, where one could get a tooth pulled or a leg amputated in an afternoon.
Through the sounds of the busy market and into the quiet solace of John Dee’s study and then into an old witch’s living room. I took several photos of a gorgeous glass ball, through which the pale light reflected the upturned world of crows in cages and skulls on thick dusty books. Downstairs I found myself as I would have looked had I been a wench in a 1500s booze hall.
I loved this place. Sure, it was dusty and a bit tacky, but it held an atmosphere that I am predictably weak for. Old machines, wooden medicine boxes, jars with questionable contents, posies of flowers or herbs, mysterious tonics said to cure any ill. A combination of science and superstition, draped beneath long cloaks and studied by candlelight.
I still have so many photos I want to share, and I haven't even written about the play. It's hard to believe we were only there for two days.
Wishing you a magical weekend...
Twilight Scrawls by Kirstin Maguire
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