A new town in China will feature an exact replica of Shakespeare’s birthplace
China plans to build a new town named San Weng – which translates as Three Masters – to honour William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and the Chinese writer Tang Xianzu, who lived during the Ming dynasty.
Part of the town will include an area called Little Stratford-upon-Avon, and will contain replicas of Shakespeare’s birthplace and New Place, the townhouse he had built and in which he spent his later years.
Shakespeare’s original home, a half-timbered building on Henley Street in the centre of Stratford is a popular tourist attraction, and the Fuzhou Culture and Tourism Investment Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity responsible for looking after all things Shakey.
The MOU means that the replica will be overseen by the Trust, who will ensure that it is copied with respect and accuracy, rather than trying to turn the place into a theme park.
Building a copy of New Place may prove rather more taxing, however, because it was demolished in 1759 by Reverend Francis Gastrell – who was either unaware of its importance or was taking revenge for having to study interminable reinterpretations of King Lear in school*. The Chinese version will be based on historical records and archaeological evidence.
Philippa Rawlinson, speaking on behalf of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “This is very much a two-way partnership. By providing our knowledge and expertise to help the Fuzhou team to create an authentic spirit of place, we will be able to support our work to not only maintain and preserve the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites and collections here in the UK, but to also continue to promote the enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works, life and times around the globe.”
*DISCLAIMER: I actually love Shakespeare. Plus he was a fellow Midlander. Nice to see a local boy do well.