Saturday, 11 July 2009

My kind of clutter: The Falstaff Experience

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.

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...


Dave King said...

No need to apologise for its length. That's amazing! Do you know how long it's been there? I thought I knew Stratford fairly well, but I've never seen that. Thanks for posting it. (Any more of that ilk?)

Zhoen said...

That's very... wow. I think I'd get the giggles going through, in a good way.

Cheryl said...

Oh, wish I'd seen this when I was in Stratford years ago. I love historical tours.

Stephen Fry reading harry Potter! I love him, have you heard his podcasts? I was I was half as eloquent as he.

Cheryl said...

Wish! I meant wish, not was!

Marcheline said...

Looks just like "my place", actually! And that wench does look like you, too.

I have all the Harry Potters on CD, read by Jim Dale. If you haven't heard Jim Dale's version, you ought to give it a spin - he does the voices exactly the way they are in the movie (even Professor McGonagall!) which makes it fun.

I am dying to get hold of a Stephen Fry recording, as I love Mr. Fry generally speaking. Does he do the voices to imitate the movie characters, or does he read the whole thing in his own voice?

Me, myself, and I want to know!

LDWatkins said...

It was great! I look forward to more of your pictures and tales!!!

PurestGreen said...


Hi Dave! I don't know how long The Falstaff Experience has been open. I know it is a private business, seperate from the other Shakespeare tours. And they do ghost tours at night!

Zhoen - welcome! Giggle away. :)

Regarding Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter. He is incredible, and does wonderful voices and is so animated and entertaining. I hope to go through the whole series with Mr. Fry. And yes, Cheryl, I love love Stephen's Pod grams. I do wish he would do more. Since Twitter they seemed to have fallen by the wayside.

Lynda - I'm glad you like the Stratford posts because I've got three more to go before I'm done.

Rikkij said...

Sophie-What a fun journey and great pics. you always take us fun places! ~rick

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

Hello Chickadee!
I am still on my break but I do miss reading great blogs such as yours!
Take care!

A Cuban In London said...

Pickled eyeballs? Were there no onions available? Many thanks for you beautiful pictures.

Greetings from London.