After years of planning and months of archaeological and conservation work on the site of Shakespeare’s family home, planting has started in the historic Knot Garden at Shakespeare’s New Place – the setting for the most enduring and significant project for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s legacy this year.
Shakespeare’s New Place Project Manager Julie Crawshaw joined Gardens Manager Christopher Cunningham, Gardener James Baker, newly appointed garden apprentice Charlie Smith and four green-fingered volunteers to help plant the Euonymous japonica'Green Rocket’ (more commonly known as Spindle).
The team will be planting just under 4,500 pristine plants (all sourced from Wyevale Nurseries, Hereford) in the Knot Garden; the first part of the historic Grade II listed Park and Garden to be restored to its former glory.
This is the largest restoration undertaken on the Knot Garden since it was set out nearly 100 years ago by Ernest Law, a leading exponent of the Tudor knot garden revival in the early C20th. The new planting scheme is based on the original plans set out by Ernest Law.
“This is a landmark moment for the gardening team and me,” comments Christopher Cunningham, Gardens Manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. “We have been planning and waiting for this day for a long time, and to see the first plants go back into Shakespeare’s home ground is the culmination of a lot of dedication and passion. This is the first milestone of many for Shakespeare’s New Place, and I am honoured to be a part of it. Thanks to everyone who has been involved, especially the four volunteers, who helped us kick-start the volunteering programme.
“I am particularly proud to have our first garden apprentice, Charlie Smith, start on the Knot Garden work. Gardening needs more projects like this to entice young people into our profession. Projects which are about our history and heritage, like this globally important one at Shakespeare’s New Place, show that gardening is about so much more than just ‘digging holes’. Thanks to support for the project from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we have funding for more apprentices to work at New Place. We’re currently recruiting for another apprentice to join the team.”
The Knot Garden is just one part of the creation of a major heritage landmark at Shakespeare’s New Place, the biggest and most enduring project anywhere in the world to mark 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy. The £5.25 million project is also the biggest undertaken by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 50 years. The project is being funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England and through public donations raised through a host of initiatives spearheaded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
The project at New Place is a retelling, rather than a rebuilding, of Shakespeare’s personal home which was unfortunately demolished three centuries ago, and the plot has been conserved as a garden in honour of Shakespeare ever since.
The reopening of Shakespeare’s New Place in July 2016* will be a key highlight of the worldwide celebrations of the playwright’s 400 year legacy this year. Shedding new light on the living, breathing man behind the works, it will showcase specially commissioned artworks in a new contemporary landscape setting, and a major new exhibition which will be displayed in the Grade I Tudor Nash’s House next door.
The new landscape will invite visitors to walk across the footprint of the Shakespeare’s family home, through beautiful gardens on the largest surviving part of their estate, and end with a dynamic new exhibition showcasing his life. They will be encouraged to set their imaginations free, just as Shakespeare did when he lived at New Place.
*Update: The re-opening of Shakespeare’s New Place has been postponed following delays caused by adverse weather. The site will open from 11am, Saturday 20 August 2016 - read our New Place postponement press release for more details.