China will soon be getting its own version of Stratford-upon-Avon, the town in England most famous for being Shakespeare’s home. The plan, put forth by local government officials, will see the construction of a full-size replica village with Tudor-style houses and a ‘River Avon’ in the southern Chinese city of Fuzhou later this year.
The village, which will be known as Sanweng (三翁; ‘three masters’), has been planned to commemorate three famous writers: Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote) and Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu, the latter of whom was from the nearby area in Jiangxi province.
In addition to Shakespeare’s house, the village will also incorporate elements that replicate Cervantes’ hometown Alcalá de Henares in Spain. There will also be a replica of one of Rome’s most famous churches, the Trinità dei Monti, though no explanation was given for why it would be included.
A delegation from the Stratford-upon-Avon district council, as well as members of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, visited Fuzhou earlier this year to consult on the details. Stratford district council leader Chris Saint, who was among the delegation that visited Fuzhou, told the BBC that no date had been set for the town’s opening, but that it is “a pioneering effort for a Chinese provincial government to work with an English district council. They’re very keen to use Shakespeare’s worldwide influence to promote their playwright, Tang Xianzu, by association.”
The three writers were chosen for commemoration because they all died in 1616 and plans to build the village this year were made in part to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of their deaths.