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Shakespeare’s Coming Home

Paul Edmondson

The statue of William Shakespeare that usually adorns the niche above the entrance to Stratford Town Hall is in need of restoration.

A black and white photo of the statue of William Shakespeare, standing in its niche in Stratford-upon-Avon Town Hall.
The statue of Shakespeare - in the niche at the front of the Town Hall from 1769 until a few months ago.

It is badly in need of full restoration and conservation. So, our Shakespeare has been sent away to be conserved – at the cost £45,000. The statue is made of lead, and will in fact be restored by the leading experts Rupert Harris Conservation Ltd: Conservators of Fine Metalwork, Historic and Modern Sculpture.

The statue is important for several reasons. In 1769, David Garrick was invited by the Town Council to hold a Jubilee in celebration of Shakespeare, to open the then new Town Hall, and to grace Stratford-upon-Avon by becoming the first Honorary Freeman of the Borough. Garrick more than rose to the occasion. He built a temporary theatrical pavilion on what is now the site of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, invited his friend Thomas Arne to write music for Garrick’s new Shakespeare Ode, and held a three-day celebration of music, pageant, fireworks, and concerts. To mark the occasion, Garrick recited his ode in front of the statue of Shakespeare (based on the one in Westminster Abbey), and gave the statue to people of Stratford-upon-Avon.

A black and white illustration of David Garrick with the statue of Shakespeare.
David Garrick performs his Shakespeare ode in front of the statue during the Jubilee of 1769.

I was asked by Stratford Town Council how we might raise funds – hence our project: Shakespeare’s Coming Home. Shakespeare’s Coming Home seeks to gather individuals, communities and businesses together in the beautiful ballroom of the Town Hall for a reading of Shakespeare’s complete works over the course of 12 days from 1 – 12 March, from 'the prick of noon' (12.00pm) until 'the chimes at midnight' (12.00am) each day.  Readers are asked to contribute a minimum donation of £25 per person, and audiences are welcome to attend for a minimum donation of £5.

Please come and join me – and David Troughton and his family, Dame Janet Suzman, Scott Handy, Dame Harriet Walter, some of The Archers actors, the Bishops of Coventry and Warwick, many more…

You might like to consider supporting the project in one or more of these three ways:

  1. By coming in person to take part as a reader or in the audience. You can book your tickets at
  2. By making a donation with a cheque payable to The Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council. Please mark the cheque ‘Shakespeare’s Coming Home!’ and send it to ‘Shakespeare’s Coming Home!’, The Town Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6EF.
  3. By letting your friends and contacts know about the project, and disseminating information about it via social media.

And we are thrilled that our endeavours have attracted the kind and generous attention of our local and internationally famous jeweller, George Pragnell Ltd. They have made the Pragnell Pledge to the People of Stratford, and will match-fund what we raise – up to £22,500.

The yellow stone exterior of Stratford-upon-Avon Town Hall. It is a two-storey building. There is an empty niche which will be occupied by the statue of Shakespeare once restoration is complete.
The empty niche: but Shakespeare's coming home!

It is anticipated that the newly restored statue of Shakespeare will be revealed on 23 April 2022, Shakespeare’s birthday.