Harry Potter fans are called Potterheads, The Twilight Saga enthusiasts are called Twihards, die-hards of the worlds created by J.R.R Tolkien are known as Tolkienites. So, given the wide-reaching scope of William Shakespeare, there ought to be a name for appreciators of his work, right? Right. Shakespeare-lovers are known as bardolators, a spin-off of the nickname held by Shakespeare himself as “The Bard of Avon”, and the Greek “latria”, which means “worship”. Consider yourself a regular bardolator? Well, here is a truly Shakespearean tour of London.
Though having lived and grown up in Stratford-Upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, like any aspiring playwright with a travelling theatre company in the Elizabethan times, had his plays put on in London at The Globe Theatre. It was built in 1599, and burnt down 1613 – a sad fate, but an admittedly unexpected one when you consider it was made of thatch and using fire as a light source for the 3000 rowdy people who went to see his productions. They rebuilt it a year after it burnt down, in 1614, but by 1644, it had been demolished. Now, in its place and with an incredibly accurate likeness, Shakespeare’s Globe has been built and stands today as both a tribute to the bard himself, as well as a destination for Londoners and visitors to watch some of his iconic plays as well as enjoy tours of the theatre.
Summer in London is one of the best times of year, with Grand Royale London Hyde Park residents able to take regular strolls in Hyde Park, or refreshing dips in the Serpentine Lido. Not to mention, watching a play during the Summer in London is just perfect, especially at Shakespeare’s Globe because you can stand in the outdoor area like the crowds did back in the day and enjoy the magic and mania of Shakespeare’s plays without the prospect (or at least, without the highly likely prospect) of a rain-check. The line-up of plays for 2020 are as follows:
The Taming of the Shrew: 1 March – 18 April
Romeo & Juliet: 14 April – 12 July
Twelfth Night: 15 May – 3 October
Much Ado About Nothing: 19 June – 4 October
Antony & Cleopatra: 18 July – 29 August
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: 27 April – 7 October
The tours of Shakespeare’s Globe are yet another reason to visit, second only to seeing a production from the Summer 2020 at the Globe set. Better yet, if you happen to have missed your favourite show, these tours happen year-round. Get a full, rich understanding of the world of Shakespeare in a fascinating time in history, as well as for the arts.
Address: 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT
Statue of William Shakespeare
Statue of William Shakespeare in Leicester Square, by artists Giovanni Fontana and James Thomas Knowles, is a wonderful tribute to one of England’s greats and one of the world’s most formative writers. He sits posing on a fountain, overlooking all those walking by with a cavalier charm and his billowing cloak. It stands as a centrepiece in London’s iconic square and theatre district, and has done since 1874, and he holds a scroll reading the inspirational words: “There is no darkness but ignorance”.
The fact that there are three pubs in London alone called Shakespeare’s Head is testimony not just to the country’s gratitude and patriotism around the bard, but also a cheekily unintentional nod towards Shakespeare’s love of a good pint of ale. The Shakespeare’s Head in Holborn is a JD Wetherspoons, and while a Wetherspoons pub is not necessarily teeming with the grandeur of The Shaftesbury Hotel Collection, but it certainly checks all the boxes when it comes to a good pub, hearty food and value for money. The Shakespeare’s Head in Soho is somewhat more rustic, just off the iconic Carnaby Street, and your time here is safely guarded by the grand bust of Shakespeare which sits outside, serenading those walking past to come on inside and grab an ale. Lastly, there is the Shakespeare’s Head in Clerkenwell which, due to its location slightly further afield from Central London hotels special offers, in the east of London, is slightly bigger and traditional than those in the centre. There is a smashing beer garden surrounded by greenery, as well as a old-fashioned homliness inside which would’ve made the bard very proud.
Address: Africa House, 64-68 Kingsway, Holborn, London WC2B 6BG
29 Great Marlborough St, Soho, London W1F 7HZ
1 Arlington Way, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 1XA
National Portrait Gallery
Though you may have a sense of what Shakespeare looked like based on the busts, statues and pictures of him scattered around not just the city of London but the internet, his oil-painted portrait painted within the time-frame of 1600-1610, at the National Portrait Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square, is said to be the only painting of the writer which has good claim to have been painted from life. It is the image of Shakespeare that most people will be familiar with, which has been replicated time and time again on tote bags and mugs alike, painted originally by the iconic artist of numerous famous works, John Taylor.
Address: St. Martin’s Pl, Charing Cross, London WC2H 0HE
Though Shakespeare’s Globe offers Shakespeare’s plays largely as they were written, though adapted in some parts for a modern audience, there is also a plethora of art and theatre inspired by his work that are far from the original script. For instance, & Juliet is a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, a musical theatre production, written in 2019, being performed on the West End in the Shaftesbury Theatre, and follows the story of what would have happened if Juliet hadn’t died at the end of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy. This is not the first time Romeo & Juliet has played inspiration for modern entertainment, with the children’s animation series Gnomeo and Juliet (Romeo and Juliet, through garden gnomes), as well as the classic West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet, through American and Puerto Rican gangs in Manhattan. & Juliet is a wonderful example of how the bard’s words can ring true hundreds of years after their conception.
So, if you find yourself with time to kill in London as a Shakespeare-enthusiast and soon-to-be Shakespeare expert, there is Much Ado About Nothing: take this tour, As You Like It, because All’s Well That Ends Well and there is no value in Love’s Labour Lost.