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Pop-up exhibition explores the varied lives of women over six centuries

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust opens up its world-class archives as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days

Heritage open days 2018
Madeleine Cox, reader services co-ordinator at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, with a copy of Laneham’s Letter (c) Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Nostalgic items from the archive of Stratford-upon-Avon department store Fred Winter will feature in a free pop-up exhibition by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days (8th and 9th September). 

It takes place at the Shakespeare Centre on Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, between 10am and 4pm on both days.

Showcasing items from the charity’s world-class library, archive and museum collection, the two-day event presents the theme of Seven Faces of Woman, exploring the varied lives of women over six centuries, from Shakespeare's time to the modern era.

Newspaper adverts from Fred Winter will examine the enduring image of the housewife in the 50s and 60s, while also on display will be photographs of its different locations around Stratford during 160 years as a key part of the town’s retail history. The family-run company will cease trading next month.

Other exhibition highlights include information about early midwifery and how forceps were kept a ‘trade secret’ by one family for decades before coming into general use; police charge and description books relating to female offenders, and you can read about the lavish entertainment laid on during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Kenilworth Castle in 1575 in the Laneham Letter.

Also on display is a Tudor medicine chest, alongside herbal remedies from the era. Visitors can have a go at craft activities, including making lavender and rosemary sachets to take away, or try their hand at quill writing.

Madeleine Cox, reader services co-ordinator at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “Heritage Open Days are a once-a-year chance to explore the hidden treasures of the town’s heritage for free, and get a real sense of the beautiful collections and wonderful history available on your doorstep. Whilst anyone can use our Reading Room free of charge, many are unaware of the vast collections and rich history that lie behind the doors of the Shakespeare Centre.

“This year we’re looking forward to showcasing pieces which explore the varied lives of women as leaders, artists, mothers, entrepreneurs and much more. You’ll also get to meet our staff and volunteers who care for the precious collections, and learn more about how you can access our services.”    

Entry to the exhibition is free. For more information visit

Press release issued by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. For media enquiries [email protected]