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Heritage Open Days 2017: Travels through Europe!

Join us for a free pop-up exhibition celebrating our world-class library, archive and museum collections relating to travel and Europe through the centuries.

Madeleine Cox
Jenkinson Map of Russia, 1595 (Ortelius and Hogenberg)
Jenkinson Map of Russia from 1595, Ortelius and Hogenberg

We will be taking part in Heritage Open Days on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September from 10am to 4pm. 

Come along and meet collections staff and volunteers and explore travel books contemporary with Shakespeare, eighteenth and nineteenth century travel diaries, translations of Shakespeare's plays and original items from our museum collections. Find out how Shakespeare used foreign settings and enjoy past production photos from the Royal Shakespeare Company archive. Discover Thomas Coryate, an early seventeenth century traveller and his continental escapades, see a passport from Tsar Alexander and read about the Leigh family and their European tours.

Fan with French translation of the Seven Ages of Man speech
Fan with French translation of the Seven Ages of Man speech, 1794

Join us and take a tour starting in Stratford-upon-Avon and covering at least six centuries of history. Fortunately you won't need to heed the advice from Moryson's Itinerary of 1617 to attend!  The third section of this folio-sized book includes an extensive list of "Precepts for the Traveller".  These include:

1.  I advise him to make his will, which no wise man staying at home will have unmade.

2.  Learn languages  - otherwise you are ‘as it were deafe and doumbe’.  Go to the city with the purest language.  In Germany go to Leipzig, Strasburg (sic) or Heidelberg and in France go to Orléans.  Start by learning the grammar rules, then gather choice (non-literal) phrases and read books, thirdly practise silence to better listen and learn pronunciation and the properties of a language.  Avoid spending long periods with your own countrymen and certainly do not live with them.  Don’t be put off by people laughing at you:  “Cast off all clownish bashfulness, for no Man is borne a Master in any Art”.  Converse with women, children and the most talkative people as a language should be practised through discourse and listening.

3.  As it is good before his setting forth, to be reconciled with his enemies that they may practice no ill against him, or his friends in his absence, and that his mind may be more religiously composed against him.  Write often to your friends of your health.  Frequent, rare or no writing is a sign of love or contempt.

4.  When he will observe the situation of any City, let him (if he may without jelousie of the Inhabitants,) first climbe one of the highest steeples.  Carry a Dyall (compass).

5.  Many desire to have their Countreymen and friends to bee their companions in these their journeys.  But Moryson advises against this as it will hinder the traveller’s ability to learn new languages, put him in more danger should he get into a disagreement and cause him terrible grief and problems should his friend die.  It is better to spend just part of the week in company and to travel alone.  The traveller can then enjoy sharing stories upon his return, his friends’ hearts having grown fonder in his absence.

6.  In stead of a companion, let the Traveller have alwayes with him some good Booke in his pocket. This will make the solitude of inns less unpleasant.

7.  The Traveller should carry only the most necessary things with him. (i.e. Travel light!)

8.  Let him enquire after the best Innes in order to avoid frauds and the injuries of knaves and to sleepe safely.  Bolt /locke your chamber door, take heed of your chamber fellows and always have your sword by your side or bed side.  Put your purse under your pillow folded with your garters or something else you use first thing in the morning so you don’t forget it.

(Italics are exact transcripts from Moryson)

This year we will also be offering a range of children's activities in the Queen Elizabeth Hall to accompany our display of collections treasures. Enjoy our replica Tudor market, dress up as a Tudor traveller or join in with our craft activities and make something to take home. 

Heritage Open Days is England's largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE. For more information visit

Staff and volunteers demonstrating the dress-up activities at last year's Heritage Open Days
Staff and volunteers get into the spirit of the event with Tudor dress-up activities at last year's Heritage Open Days

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