COVENTRY’S most famous daughter will soon be meeting Stratford’s most celebrated son.
A larger than life Lady Godiva will lead a community celebration of Shakespeare as part of the 450th Shakespeare’s birthday celebrations over the weekend of April 25 and 26.
To coincide with the birthday celebrations, Stratford will give sanctuary to Coventry’s most famous daughter in the form of a six-metre tall mechanical puppet.
The giant feat of engineering, created by Imagineer Productions for The Cultural Olympiad in 2012, will lead the biggest community celebration the town has ever seen, The People’s Pageant, on Saturday April 26.
According to legend, Godiva was an 11th Century noblewoman who rode naked through the streets of Coventry as a protest over the high taxes imposed by her husband, the Earl of Mercia.
Supported by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) and the RSC, the fully-clothed Godiva will spend the night before the pageant at the birthplace in Henley Street.
The People’s Pageant will complement the flag unfurling ceremony and main birthday ‘cradle to grave’ procession through the town – made up of brass bands, civic dignitaries, foreign diplomats and pupils from local schools, each carrying their floral tribute to lay at Shakespeare’s grave in Holy Trinity Church where the Bard is buried.
Her visit to Stratford, Godiva’s first outing on a tour, centres around her collecting stories of Shakespeare, and in particular the women in his life and in his works.
Marion Morgan, Event Officer at SBT, which is co-ordinating the People’s Pageant, said: “There is a natural symbiosis between Godiva and Shakespeare – both were famous historic characters from the Midlands whose legends live on in our imaginations.
“Godiva was a strong and principled character, the kind that Shakespeare wrote about, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s five houses all have strong associations with the women in his life.”