Lonely Planet Writer

The classroom where Shakespeare sat, opens to the public this weekend

The classroom where William Shakespeare went to school is to open to visitors as part of the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.

King Edward VI Grammar School - Stratford-upon-Avon
King Edward VI Grammar School – Stratford-upon-Avon Image by Elliot Brown / CC BY 2.0

The timbered room in Stratford-upon-Avon is still used by King Edward VI School for lessons, but will be open to the public from 23 April, reports the Guardian. After 11am on school days, tourists will get the chance to sit through a Tudor grammar school lesson and inspect the historic site. The building dates from 1420. Features include a pre-Reformation painting of John the Baptist and a pane of glass bearing the scratched words “William Shakespeare 1575”. That signature is believed to be fake, but the buildings’ connections to the bard are very real. Shakespeare is believed to have studied at the school between the ages of around 7 and 14, leaving early because of his father’s business troubles.

The £1.8 million refurbishment includes new oak benches carved from nearby woods once owned by Shakespeare’s family. The historian Michael Wood, quoted in the Guardian, describes the school as “one of the most atmospheric, magical and important buildings in the whole of Britain”. The head of the school, Bennet Carr, said that “We’re not opening a museum, we’re welcoming visitors into our world.” Carr is expecting 100,000 visitors a year.

Shakespeare's First Folio will go on a tour to every state in America and Puerto Rico.
The opening marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s  death  Image by Folger Shakespeare Library / CC BY-SA 2.0

The restored school room joins a number of Shakespeare-based sights in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born and died. Visitors can attend a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s three theatres, see the rebuilt house and gardens Shakespeare retired to, and visit the church where he is buried.