The Globe at the Bodley.

I had a treat last night. The main quad at the Bodley, was transformed into a stage set.

The Globe touring company set up camp…

…in a glorious location…

…for an all female production of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

I’d never seen the play performed before, in fact, I don’t think I’d ever even read it all the way through. The production was excellent, played as a broad farce (let’s be honest, we’ve all seen Shakespeare comedies that aren’t very funny), but it left me with a strange unsettled feeling. However you play it, it is a deeply, uncomfortable play for a modern audience.

The Painted Room – 3 Cornmarket St

Behind the 18th C facade of 3 Cornmarket St, is the remains of a 16th C house, with a preserved Elizabethan painted room. Thanks to the Oxford Preservation Trust, I had a guided tour today.

It’s thought that the paintings date from between 1564 and 1581, when it was a private house occupied by John Tattleton, a tailor and local dignitary. The ‘painted room’ would have been the principal bed chamber. A painted room like this, was the cheaper alternative to wall hangings.

Later, the house was the ‘Crown Inn’, run by John Davenant, a friend of one William Shakespeare. It’s thought that Shakespeare would have stayed in the room when travelling between London and Stratford-upon-Avon.

The tour guide repeated some Elizabethan scuttlebutt, viz. Davenant’s son William, was in fact Shakespeare’s, the evidence: he was called William; Shakespeare was his godfather; John Davenant was a grumpy old cove (unlike his wife); and William Davenant became a famous poet. Now if said son has been called Horace, and after his birth Davenant and Shakespeare had never spoken to each other again…then I might have thought there was something in it. It makes me MAD that poor Jane Davenant’s reupation is still being traduced.

The room has been clearly restored in places…

…but there was still a wonderful feeling of touching the past…and that’s even with electric sockets and cat5 cabling!
Let’s hope that now the OPT has taken over the room will be open to visitors more often.