Shakespeare 400 & Southampton

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,

Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Minature of Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton
Miniature of Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton

 

I love Shakespeare. Throughout the year Britain is celebrating Shakespeare 400.

Shakespeare died on his birthday, 23rd April 400 years ago. This is also St George’s Day (patron Saint of England). So this weekend there are special celebrations throughout the regions. I am going to many and thought I would highlight Shakespeare and his Southampton connections:

The Earl of Southampton

Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton was Shakespeare’s patron, especially during the era of The Globe theatre. Shakespeare made such a devoted dedication in his sonnet The Rape of Lucrece to Wriothesley, that many thought that there may have been a sexual relationship between the two, though I like others feel that is was just the language of the day.

Tudor Merchants Hall, which was once The Bull's Head. Although Shakespeare's patron The Earl of Southampton, had his seat outside the town, in Titchfield, he attended state functions in the town and is said to have drank here with some of the touring actors.
Tudor Merchants Hall, which was once The Bull’s Head. Although Shakespeare’s patron The Earl of Southampton, had his seat outside the town, in Titchfield, he attended state functions in the town and is said to have frequented this lodging house with touring actors.

Red Lion 1The Earl’s country seat was outside of the town of Southampton, but still in Hampshire, in Titchfield. Although his wife lived there, Henry Wriothesley spent much of his time in London, as did Shakespeare.

The Earl is also believed to have frequented or owned a pub in Southampton’s City Centre where travelling actors lodged. Some say this was The Bull’s Head (now referred to as The Tudor Merchant’s House); others say it was The Red Lion Inn. It was a council chamber where the trial of traitors from The Southampton Plot took place before it became an inn. In Henry V Act II, scene II, Shakespeare has the king sentence the plotters in the Southampton council chamber, then immediately set sail from the port of Southampton for Agincourt. Shakespeare must have listened to the Earl mention the Red Lion or some believe that Shakespeare may have had a drink there himself.

Southampton’s Bargate

Southampton Bargate front view.
Southampton Bargate
Bargate touring strollers area
Bargate touring strollers area

Shakespearean actors have performed at the Bargate and in theatres around the town since Elizabethan times, including Shakespeare’s own touring actors. Every British monarch has passed through this Bargate on their way to Southampton’s Port. Hangings once took place at the Bargate and according to legend The Southampton Plot traitors, that were written about in Henry V Act II, scene II, were hanged here.

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Westgate, where Henry V troops left for Southampton's Port to the Battle of Agincourt
Westgate, where Henry V troops left for Southampton’s Port to the Battle of Agincourt

 

Southampton’s West Gate and Port

The soldiers who boarded ships at Southampton for the D-Day invasion, took inspiration from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Some of Henry V troops passed through Southampton’s West Gate to set sail from Southampton to the Battle of Agincourt.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; 

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

Daring Theatre in Southampton

Ira Aldridge, the first black world famous Shakespearean actor performed in Southampton
Ira Aldridge, the first black world famous Shakespearean actor performed in Southampton

Southampton has a long reputation for modern or innovative theatre, Ira Aldridge is recorded as the first black Shakespearean actor. He had a limited experience of acting when he arrived from New York by ship, on which he worked as crew, in 1824. But following drama lessons and a stint at a University in Scotland, he became one of the highest paid stage actors in the world.

Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth
Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth

Ira was especially loved here in the South. He performed on stage in Southampton in the title role of Shakespeare’s Othello in 1828.

Many actresses, such as Sarah Siddons (she frequently visited Southampton and there is a theatre group named after her here: http://www.sarahsiddonsfanclub.org ) and sisters Charlotte and Susan Cushman have said to have performed Shakespearean roles in Southampton in the late 1800s. Women were considered too titillating to be allowed to perform Shakespeare at London theatres at that time and certainly would not have been allowed male roles.

The Cushman sisters, Charlotte and Susan, as Romeo and Juliet in 1846
The Cushman sisters, Charlotte and Susan, as Romeo and Juliet in 1846

Quotes used are from Henry V Act III Scene 1 (Before Harfleur)

Further links: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2NKzPstNLT9cvcYMj9qdtT3/shakespeare-and-hampshire-where-his-footprints-are-lost-in-time

 

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6 Word Story Challenge: Supernatural

 

Vienna tomb 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
Vienna tomb 2016 © Southampton Old Lady m

 

 

Guided in darkness through devil’s fen

To take part or see others who have taken part in this week’s 6 word story challenge visit: https://nicolaauckland.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/sometimes-stellar-storyteller-six-word-story-challenge-22/

Portsmouth

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Good Morrow Old Pompey! 

How the Dickens thee be?

Southampton stops by this fine Summer’s day.

After cash-jab and face-lift, looks young and healthy

I calls on thee ‘Neighbour’,

but ‘Scummer!’ ye names me 

Thee Royal Navy and I Merchant Sea

Yet ye stole my ferry passengers

And should-be-mine bananas fatten your docks

I sings out: “Daylight Come and I Want go home”.

“What Shall We do with a Drunken Sailor?” is your repost

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Come jolly Jack Tar

slap my back if I slaps thine

Chants we more o’them shanties

and buy me a bevvy

at Spice Island Tavern

we’ll sup to “fair ladies”

my Queens and Princesses

your grand Ark Royals

and here’s to Lord Admiral Nelson

and his flagged Victory.

Your rum and brandy, my wine and beer

We feast on mackerel – all sprightly silver,

 like 30 pieces, or was that of eight?

Lament our great losses:

My tragic Titanic

Your dear Mary Rose. 

Evoke Dunkirk spirit –

How we did save them

by the thousand

How we did fight them

shoulder to shoulder

against the French, and on D-Day, the Blitz …

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Let’s parade to bagpipes along your old battlements

Lungs refresh’d

with Southsea salt-air,

We skiff English pebbles

aim for Spitbank

and against that greasy-grey grave of great sea.

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Thee, and thy gulls, have welcomed me 

And now I must bid fare-thee-well and Adieu..

Let’s stay always Mateys

And repay my Southampton a visit

real soon.

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Note: I wrote this after visiting friends in Portsmouth, about half an hour’s ride away. Historically Southampton and Portsmouth have always been rival ports. It is only heard in football match chants nowadays. But the two cities have always pulled together hard against common enemies.

Six Word Story Challenge: Regret

sss-2nd“I regret nothing!” Replied the psychopath.”

OldHouseBulbs

This is my response to this week’s ‘Six Word Story Challenge’ 2:  Regret

I won 2nd prize!

If you would like to take part too, visit https://nicolaauckland.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/weekly-six-word-story-challenge-2/

Six Word Story Challenge

Write about a tricky situation.

Grand Harbour Hotel 2015 © southampton old lady
Grand Harbour Hotel 2015 © southampton old lady

Escape after accidentally winning auction bid.

The above is my response to a six word story challenge created by another blogger. If you would like to join in visit: https://nicolaauckland.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/weekly-six-word-story-challenge/

I am currently working out how to create pingbacks however.

Haiku in a Hampshire Garden

This is my first attempt at Haiku. I spent time taking photos in a beautiful English garden in Hampshire. These are my results:

The scent of roses draws insects to petals. I want your softness
The scent of roses
draws insects to petals.
I want your softness
Tender bleeding hearts pollenated by bees. Tread careful, my love
Tender bleeding hearts
pollenated by bees.
Tread careful, my love
Lavender and vine Stretched along the red brick wall. Sleep, drink and be mine
Lavender and vine
Stretched along the red brick wall.
Sleep, drink and be mine
Autumn comes early to some lives in the garden. My Summer is over
Autumn comes early
to some life in the garden.
My Summer is out
I rest by the wall. Mistletoe orbs on tree tops. Kiss me at Christmas
I rest by the wall.
Mistletoe orbs on tree tops.
Kiss me at Christmas

All photos and words © southampton old lady

(permission usually given to reproduce with credit, when requested)

Decaying Old Grandeur 4 – The Royal Pier Southampton

The Mecca Ballroom at the end of Southampton's Royal Pier  burnt down in the 1970s
The Mecca Ballroom at the end of Southampton’s Royal Pier
burnt down in the 1970s

Royal Pier postcard

The Royal Pier at its best with the Pavilion leading to the Mecca Dancing ballroom at the pier's end
The Royal Pier at its best in the Victorian/Edwardian eras (top) and 1960s (above), with the Pavilion leading to the  ballroom at the pier’s head

I stare out at the gangrenous remnants of a burnt-out and buckled boardwalk.

I once walked along here in my long white gown to my wedding reception at the pier’s head.

A teenage discotecque, held every Saturday afternoon, paraded the latest fashions.

Mecca Ballroom danced the night away, and in the early hours there were women

Weeping over fights among bouncers and drunks.

Southampton's burnt pier, still an eye-saw in 2015
Southampton’s burnt pier, still an eye-sore in 2015

New wooden jetties, hoping to entice wealthy yachts and bearing ‘No Swimming’ signs, have become diving platforms today for sunburnt disobedient boys in trunks.

Diving boys

Diving through oily green waves of frothy seaweed, they wiggle down with the pipe fish and grey mullet to boat wrecks, over-stewed and stuck in the bed of blue-grey clay, razored with cracked cockleshells and broken bottles.
Here is the underworld city to hermit crabs, sea slugs or the occasional murder victim anchored by heavy slabs of concrete.

by Southampton Old Lady – August 2013

The Royal Pier, Southampton. Pavilion decorated in time for 1953 Queen's Coronation.
The Pavilion at Southampton’s Royal Pier, decorated in time for The Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
Privatised, the Pavilion opens as a restaurant:  'Kuti's Royal Thai Pier' in 2010
The Pavilion opens as a restaurant:
‘Kuti’s Royal Thai Pier’ in 2010

Something about May Hill

Walking the wide, grassy ride that inclines so disconcertingly slowly up May Hill,

Mushrooms tightened their plate-sized parasols against the mist.

Fruits in abundance hardened themselves on to branches:

Leafless crab-apples, damsons, red rowans, black bramble-berries

And uncultivated chestnuts which spike out green armour.

Under the tall fir-copsed brow lay a docile herd of Belted Galloways,

Their marbled meat spread about in a Turkish bath of a fog.

Coal-black, their fluffy white belts resemble steam-room towels.

Water pearls weave their way through laced spiderless webs

No view today of any one of the twelve counties.

Still and silent.

Straining, I can hear echoes of bird twitters chorused by traffic.

And see dried, feathered grasses twitching nervously.

Everything seems to wait, wait.

Wait for what?

Something, is in the air.

Something, is about to change.

Southampton Old Lady wrote this on September 3rd,  2014