The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0319 Thursday, 29 May 2008
Date: Wednesday, 28 May 2008 13:09:18 -0700
Subject: Despite Curse, Shakespeare Grave Needs Fixing Up
Despite curse, Shakespeare grave needs fixing up
By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer
May 28, 2008
Fix the gravesite. But don't touch the bones.
That's the work order, in a nutshell, for brave architects contemplating a fixup
job for the deteriorating gravesite of William Shakespeare inside the Holy
Trinity Church in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.
The illustrious bard is believed by many to have personally penned the threat on
a stone marker above his grave.
"Blest be the man that spares these stones," it reads. "And curst be he that
moves my bones."
That's all well and good, but the stones above his grave are starting to flake
and fall apart. Clergymen have trod on the stones for nearly four centuries, and
the foot traffic is taking its inevitable toll.
People who love the church and its place in British literary history want to fix
it -- provided they can do so without digging up Shakespeare's remains and
facing the mysterious threat.
"We're avoiding the curse," said Josephine Walker, a spokeswoman for the Friends
of Shakespeare's Church group. "We are not lifting the stones, we are not
looking underneath, and the curse is for the bones underneath, so the curse is
irrelevant for this work."
"It's our wish that we conserve this without anyone knowing we were there," said
architect Ian Stainburn, who is working on the project. "We want to conserve it
as it is and slow down the natural process of decay but we don't want to recut
it. It's really a challenge."
The restoration work is delicate because the church, 100 miles northwest of
London, is not only a functional house of worship where Shakespeare was baptized
in 1564 but also a treasure popular with visitors from around the globe.
"We get 100,000 tourists a year, but they don't walk on the stones," Walker
said. "But the clergy have to when they give communion, and the stones are
flaking away, the surfaces are coming off. We want to clean the surfaces and
then very gradually ease in some transparent grout and hold the surfaces
together. Then we want to move the altar rail so that when the clergy give
communion they don't have to walk over the stones."
The planned work on the gravesite, which has not yet been approved by the
various agencies that oversee historic sites, is part of a much larger
restoration of the church that began two years ago, Walker said.
The group is trying to raise an additional $8 million for the entire project,
she said. One of the most urgent tasks is to repair the main nave windows, which
are in very poor shape.
"The metal work is eroding and disintegrating," she said. "That's a really big,
major job that has to be done, hopefully next year."
At least they don't face a centuries-old curse if they repair the windows. If
they get the money and the approvals, they can do the work without worrying
about angering the Bard's ghost.
On the Net: http://www.stratford-upon-avon.org
[Editor's Note: The curse lives! Delia Bacon, mother of all Anti-Stratfordians,
spent the night in Holy Trinity with a shovel, her intention to open the grave
and reveal the conspiracy she so fervently believed. The following morning, she
was found by the sexton in a state of shock, insane the remainder of her life,
an insanity that she bequeathed to the Anti-Stratfordians who would follow her.
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