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Shakespeare Monument on east side of the Great Gardens of New Place

A Grade II* Listed Building in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.1908 / 52°11'26"N

Longitude: -1.7058 / 1°42'21"W

OS Eastings: 420204

OS Northings: 254772

OS Grid: SP202547

Mapcode National: GBR 4LT.MJN

Mapcode Global: VHBY0.D61C

Entry Name: Shakespeare Monument on east side of the Great Gardens of New Place

Listing Date: 9 February 1972

Last Amended: 19 September 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1298541

English Heritage Legacy ID: 366171

Location: Stratford-upon-Avon, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37

County: Warwickshire

District: Stratford-on-Avon

Civil Parish: Stratford-upon-Avon

Built-Up Area: Stratford-upon-Avon

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Stratford on Avon Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

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Summary


A sculpture of 1789 by Thomas Banks RA for the facade of Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall, London, moved to the Great Gardens of New Place, Stratford and monumentalised by Charles Holt Bracebridge in 1871.

Description

A monument of 1789 by Thomas Banks RA for Alderman John Boydell, moved to its current location in 1871. The cornice added in c.1891.

MATERIALS: of a pale ashlar limestone with a rear wall of red brick. The C19 plinth and cornice are of different ashlar limestones.

DESCRIPTION: rectangular on plan, the monument faces west and takes the form of a high-relief sculpture of Shakespeare Attended by Painting and Poetry, under a bracketed pedimental-gabled canopy and mounted on a large plinth. The tableau has a central figure of Shakespeare in contemporary dress seated on a rock outcrop. The Dramatic Muse is to the left, in flowing robes and with a lyre, holding up a wreath. The Genius of Painting is to the right, draped and with brushes and palette. The outcrop stands on a rectangular plinth with a panel inscribed with a quotation from Hamlet Act I, Scene ii: “HE WAS A MAN, TAKE HIM FOR ALL IN ALL/ I SHALL NOT LOOK UPON HIS LIKE AGAIN.”

The large plain plinth below is inscribed: THIS ALTO RELIEVO/ REPRESENTING SHAKESPEARE SEATED BETWEEN THE DRAMATIC MUSE AND THE GENIUS OF PAINTING/ (FORMERLY IN THE FRONT OF THE SHAKESPEARE GALLERY, PALL MALL, LONDON,)/ WAS PRESENTED TO THE TOWN BY/ CHARLES HOLTE BRACEBRIDGE ESQ.,/ ATHERSTONE HALL,/ 1871.

The rear wall is mainly laid in Flemish Garden Wall (Sussex) Bond.

History

The monument was created by Thomas Banks RA for the façade of the John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall, London, which opened in May 1789. The gallery displayed paintings that exclusively represented scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, many of which were commissioned by Boydell from contemporary artists including Sir Joshua Reynolds. Prints of the paintings formed a lucrative commercial venture in the late C18 and early C19. The gallery building was demolished shortly after its sale in 1868. The monument was retained and moved to its present site in 1871 by Charles Holt Bracebridge of Atherstone Hall, amid some local opposition at the time. Despite the sculpture having been regarded in its day as “the most perfect piece of sculpture that has yet been produced by a native of Great Britain” (European Magazine, 1791), general local opinion was that a more fitting tribute to Shakespeare in the town would be in the form of a new theatre. However, the site in the Great Garden of New Place was eventually secured and the statue installed. The stone cornice was added later in the C19, to better protect the condition of the sculpture.

The site of New Place, the house bought by Shakespeare as his family home in 1597, where he died in 1616, lay at the west end of the gardens towards Chapel Street. The house was demolished in c.1702 to make way for a new home as part of the marriage settlement of Hugh Clopton and Elizabeth Millward. New Place and its garden (which apparently contained a mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare himself) became a popular visitor attraction. However, this outside interest proved disagreeable to the next owner, Reverend Francis Gastrell, who reputedly cut down the mulberry and in 1759, as the result of a dispute with the Stratford Corporation over poor rates, demolished New Place. The garden at New Place and adjacent property and land including Nash’s House was purchased via public subscription by the antiquarian James Orchard Halliwell-Phillips in 1861 and vested in trust with the Corporation of Stratford. By the time of the installation of Boydell’s statue the gardens had been laid out as simple pleasure grounds and passed to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1884. In the early C20 parts of the garden were remodelled to designs by Ernest Law. The garden was added to the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens in 1986, and renovated in 2016 to mark 400 years since the passing of Shakespeare.

Reasons for Listing

The Shakespeare Monument on the east side of the Great Gardens of New Place, Chapel Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Artistic interest: as a particularly important and early example of a monument to Shakespeare, by the sculptor Thomas Banks RA, displaying high quality carving which was monumentalised in 1871 at its new location in Stratford-upon-Avon;
* Historic interest: as an important example of a monument celebrating the life and work of William Shakespeare, representing the popularity of his work in the C18 & C19 linked with Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, London, and later, with the tradition of memorialising the playwright in the town of his birth and death;
* Group value: situated in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon in a Registered Park and Garden associated with Shakespeare’s final residence, New Place. It has strong group value with a number of listed buildings in the vicinity, particularly Nash’s House (Grade I).

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