Shakespeare’s will heads to Stratford

Cat ref: COPY 1/243 (i) (275)One of our most important original documents relating to William Shakespeare is set to return to his hometown for the very first time since it was written 400 years ago.

William Shakespeare’s last will and testament will be making its way back to Stratford-upon-Avon this summer for the very first time since it was written in March 1616. Cared for by The National Archives, the original will of the world’s greatest playwright will be loaned to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust from Saturday 16 July – Thursday 4 August as part of a major exhibition celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy.

This is the first time Shakespeare’s will is returning to Stratford-upon-Avon since Dr. John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law, took the will to London in June 1616 to get a grant of probate.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity which promotes Shakespeare’s work, life and times and cares for the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives, will temporarily display Shakespeare’s last will and testament in its Treasures exhibition, which gives a fascinating insight into Shakespeare’s social circle.

Dr Delia Garratt, Director of Cultural Engagement at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, says, ‘We’re incredibly excited to be able to present this once in a lifetime opportunity for people to see Shakespeare’s original will back in his hometown where it was drafted by local solicitor Francis Collins 400 years ago.

Displaying this historic document alongside other treasures from our collections will complete the story of Shakespeare’s social circle and his relationships with family, friends and business associates.’

Dr Katy Mair, Early Modern Records Specialist at The National Archives, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to bring Shakespeare’s will back to his hometown. Thanks to work carried out by The National Archives’ conservation team, the will’s appearance is now closer to its original state allowing us to carry out new scientific and archival research into this iconic document.

‘This summer offers a great opportunity to see the will, which includes three of Shakespeare’s six known signatures, before it has to rest for a recommended 20 years.’

William Shakespeare’s Will and Testament will be on display in the Treasures exhibition at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon from Saturday 16 July – Thursday 4 August.

Read some of our blogs on Shakespeare:

Or watch our Youtube series about the will’s conservation.

Tags: conservation, exhibition, Shakespeare, shakespeare's will