On Monday 5 th September 2016, the Chairman welcomed fifty members of the Stratford Society gathered in the warm early evening sunshine to enjoy a glass of fizz. We listened with rapt attention to our Vice-Chairman, Julie Crawshaw, who was the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Project Manager for New Place, as she took us through the challenges the team had faced: first, the rejection of the original scheme, then the approval of the second, only to be frustrated by new archaeological finds which meant the abandonment of the reflecting pool and a new concept for re-imagining Shakespeare’s final home. Then, another unexpected archaeological discovery to the rear of Nash’s House required the redesign of the foundations for the extension to the building and a further 21 weeks’ delay. And finally, the very wet conditions in winter and spring imposed further delays before the site could at last be opened to the public.
We then enjoyed exploring the site, wandering through the re-imagined New Place, the Knot Garden and the Great Garden, admiring the new and revisiting the old; forming small groups to exchange views before going off again to look at something else.Then into Nash’s House, now wonderfully transformed as the exhibition centre with particular emphasis on education. The new viewing platform at the rear was very popular.
As dusk fell, the discreet lighting cast a magic spell on the site (an unexpected bonus, not possible in July) but all too soon we reached our curfew at 8.00pm. Reluctantly we passed out through the mighty oak door and back into the twenty-first century.
Our thanks to Diana Owen and her team at New Place for allowing us the privilege of holding the first event at New Place and to Julie for her talk. Our congratulations to Diana, Julie and all those involved for the successful delivery of the New Place project.