As 2016 marks 400 years since William Shakespeare’s death, a series of insightful exhibitions, screenings and performances will be taking place across London in honour of the celebrated playwright. Dubbed Shakespeare400, this flurry of literary events makes 2016 a fascinating time to visit the capital, with historic sites linked to Shakespeare to visit, too. While staying in any one of our elegant London hotels, why not embark on your own exploration of Shakespeare’s London in this historically significant year.
Shakespeare400 will encompass an astounding offering of immersive experiences through the collaboration of esteemed cultural organisations such as King’s College London, Barbican, Royal Opera House, and The British Council, who have also set up the additional series of Shakespeare-inspired events, Shakespeare Lives, combining photography, theatre, comedy and film.
Exhibitions on the cards include Shakespeare in Ten Acts at The British Library, which is scheduled to run from mid-April to early September and will showcase the playwright’s iconic works and a collection of rare artefacts. And on various dates, the Museum of London in Hackney will be hosting Shakespeare’s London Archaeological Archive tours, where visitors will be guided through the archives and see items found in London’s Elizabethan theatres.
Another standout exhibit is By me William Shakespeare: A Life in Writing, which is taking place at Somerset House until the end of May, and exhibiting documents relating to Shakespeare’s life. At Shakespeare’s Globe from early July to September, meanwhile, Shakespeare Re-Discovered in St Omer will be shown, exhibiting books and folios of the time.
For screenings related to the event, head to BFI Southbank, who will be hosting Shakespeare on Film until the end of May, focusing on the influence the playwright had on filmmakers throughout time. In addition to the exhibitions and screenings, a series of performances and talks have been scheduled to take place throughout the year; find the full events listing on the Shakespeare400 site.
For an interactive experience, be a part of the Shakespeare’s London guided walk, which is being hosted by the Museum of London on 16th April, or to find out about the playwright’s lesser known connections, join the Shoreditch: A Shakespearean Suburb? walk with Senior Archaeologist Julian Bowsher on 23rd April. The Complete Walk Southbank, scheduled for 23rd and 24th April, will feature 37 specially made short films, screened along a two and a half mile stretch of the River Thames, between Westminster and Tower Bridge.
In fact, walking tours of Shakespeare’s London are on offer all-year-round, including Shakespeare in the City Walk, which strives to uncover the lesser-known London sites that are connected to the playwright.
Alternatively, take in some of the historic sites independently. During the 1590s Shakespeare is said to have lived in St Helen’s Bishopsgate. Here, he is believed to have spent time at the Church of St Helen’s, which having survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz is an interesting building in itself. Southwark Cathedral, which is situated right by Shakespeare’s Globe, is another significant site as the place where Shakespeare’s brother (as well as some of his fellow playwrights) is buried. Shakespeare’s Globe remains London’s most famous Shakespearean site, and with exhibitions and talks, in addition to performances, it’s certainly worth a visit.
As Shakespeare himself would have drunk in London’s taverns, there’s no better excuse to step over the threshold of some of the city’s oldest inns. The George Inn at London Bridge dates back to the 17th century, and as London’s last remaining galleried inn is a National Trust site. Shakespeare is believed to have drunk here, so why not order a pint and celebrate his legacy 400 years on.
Having explored Shakespeare’s London, take the time to relax by indulging in the great British tradition of afternoon tea. In each one of our historic London hotels, it is sure to round the day off perfectly.
Image credits: Cover photo of Shakespeare’s Globe © Flickr / Andrew Wilkinson. Ladi Emeruwa and Tom Lawrence performing in Hamlet © Bronwen Sharp, courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe. Inside the Globe theatre © iStock / casadaphoto. Scoop at Southbank © courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe. Globe theatre © iStock / LanceB. A statue of Shakespeare in Leicester Square © Flickr / Matt Brown.