18th Oct, 2019

Ancient artifacts to be returned to Shakespeare's Schoolroom

Maisie Jeynes 2nd Aug, 2017 Updated: 7th Aug, 2017

TWO medieval artifacts have been returned to their original Stratford home.

A treasure chest and school desk were moved from King Edward VI School to Shakespeare’s Birthplace in the 1860s, where they have been cared for for some 150 years.

But the recent restoration of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall has made it possible for them to be returned to where their story began.

The discovery of the so-called muniment chest, which originally stored the town council’s money and treasures, came about when volunteer Charles Rogers began exploring its possible whereabouts.

It is owned by Stratford Town Council, but was stored away in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) collections.

Lindsey Armstrong, general manager for the Schoolroom and Guildhall, explained: “Dated around 1450, the chest would have once held all the wealth and records of the town.

“Thanks to the support of the town council we are now be able to display this vast and unique piece in its original home.”

Charles added: “I was thrilled to discover the chest was still intact, and will once again be located in the heart of the town for all to see.”

The chest is more than five foot wide, and would originally had painted decoration on the outside. It still has three original locks, with a key for each held by separate individuals.

Traditionally, key holders would have been someone regarded as a ‘pillar of society’, and it is believed Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare, who served as the town’s bailiff, would have been one of them.

As well as the chest, an original school desk will also be put on permanent display.

The 15th century oak and elm desk would have been used by the schoolmaster and visiting scribes tutoring the older boys.

It will be taking its position in the corner of the first floor schoolroom in the town’s Guildhall, so visitors can get a sense of what the classroom would have been like in Shakespeare’s time.

Unsurprisingly, the desk has had its fair share of wear – and quite literally – tear.

Rosalyn Sklar, museum collections officer at SBT, said: “The desk bears a network of marks and scars that are testament to the desire people have had over the centuries to own a piece of something that was linked to Shakespeare.”

Visit www.shakespearesschoolroom.org to find out more.

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