Did Shakespeare get out of the wrong side of his ‘second best’ bed?
21 October 2016 by Sarah Rankin
Tomorrow, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s exhibition ‘The Play’s The Thing’ will open in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The exhibition will be family-friendly and will reveal the secrets and stories behind the world’s most famous theatre company. The theatre company include beautifully crafted costumes and props, you will be able to try on virtual costumes, learn how magical and gory stage and sound effects are made and experience how productions are staged through interactive hands-on activities.
The exhibition will be open from 10am daily. It is the culmination of a major project to restore the oldest part of the RSC’s theatres in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the 1879 ‘Swan Wing’. Tickets are £8.50 for adults, under 5’s go free and Families – up to 4 under 18s are half price with every full price paying adult. To book: www.rsc.org.uk/theplaysthething.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, in April 1616 Shakespeare finalised his Will, this was a month before he died. Amongst other gifts in his Will, Shakespeare left the gift of the ‘second best bed’ to his wife Anne Hathaway. There has been many speculations on the meaning of this gift;
– many think it may have meant that Shakespeare was not in love with his wife as this was the only gift left to her and was therefore a denigration showing he was cold and indifferent to her
– others believe that the best bed of the house would have been saved for guests and would have gone with the house which was gifted to his daughter, he therefore would have slept with his wife and children in the second best bed and hence, he was ensuring that this went to her
– lastly, poetically it could have meant that the best bed – was his grave.
You can see BBC Science latest research on Shakespeare’s Will including a scanned copy here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4YGG7k013n4bhlpFjqFy2dX/what-will-s-will-tells-us-about-shakespeare. You can currently see Shakespeare’s Will on display at the Inigo Rooms at Somerset House East Wing, London as part of a collaboration between The National Archives and Kings College London.
“All the world’s a stage…and one man in his time plays many parts. His acts being seven ages…Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything”. Shakespeare writes about the stages of life and death, common to us all, in his play ‘As You Like It’. Planning for this time/part/age is essential for us all. The speculations of the meaning of the gifts in his Will may have been avoided by writing a letter of wishes held along with his Will, outlining his motivations – why he has left what he left, to whom. Similarly, if you are leaving unequal gifts to members of your family – it may be prudent for you to too.
Our specialist Private Client Solicitors have recently undergone re-accreditation to the Law Society Approved Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme. As well as preparing your Will, we can advise you if there is the need to write an additional letter of wishes to accompany your Will and if necessary, prepare the letter on your behalf.