The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust,
the charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites and
collections in the playwright’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, today (7
December 2017) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Fuzhou
Culture and Tourism Investment Company Ltd to recreate two of the famous
Shakespeare family homes at San Weng in the People’s Republic of China.
The signing of the MOU took place as part of the UK-China High Level People to People Dialogue to promote collaboration on a range of issues including culture and tourism. It was witnessed by Karen Bradley, UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, and China’s Assistant Minister of Culture Yu Qun.
The Fuzhou Government has ambitious plans to create a new international heritage and cultural centre in China celebrating three great literary figures – Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Tang Xianzu, the region’s own famous son who is regarded as the Shakespeare of the East. The new town of San Weng (‘three masters’) will feature a ‘little Stratford-upon-Avon’ including replicas of Shakespeare’s Birthplace and his mature family home at New Place.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be contracted by Fuzhou Culture and Tourism Ltd as consultants to the project, to ensure that the replica buildings will faithfully represent the originals (see note 1) in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Philippa Rawlinson, Deputy Chief Executive of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “We are delighted to enter this agreement to co-operate as partners in this exciting project to bring Shakespeare’s family homes to life for visitors to San Weng. Our mission as a charity is to promote the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times worldwide. While China is an important growth market for in-bound tourism to the five Shakespeare homes and gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon, this project will enable millions more people who might never have the opportunity to visit us in the UK the chance to explore our shared Shakespeare heritage in China.
“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 also continue to promote the enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works, life and times around the globe.”
Notes to editors:
Shakespeare’s Birthplace was saved for the nation by purchase at public auction in 1847. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was formed as the independent charity responsible for the care and preservation of Shakespeare’s Birthplace, an arrangement formalised by Act of Parliament in 1891.
Shakespeare’s New Place, his family home for 19 years until his death in 1616, no longer stands in Stratford-upon-Avon. The last house to occupy the plot was demolished by the infamous Reverend Francis Gastrell in 1759. In 2016, following extensive archaeology on the site, it was re-presented as a new heritage landmark of beautifully restored gardens and breathtaking sculptures inspired by Shakespeare’s life and his works. The San Weng project will seek to create the house that Shakespeare knew, based on the archaeological findings and records held by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.