Shakespeare Slept Here: Hidden Old Room In Oxford Once Hosted The Bard

Behind an eighteenth-century facade in downtown Oxford, just above a clothing shop, is a bedroom that was once used by William Shakespeare.

It was part of the Crown Tavern, owned by Shakespeare’s friend John Davenant. The Bard frequently stopped in Oxford on his trips between Stratford-upon-Avon and London. A nearby courtyard may have hosted his troupe’s performances.

Known as the Painted Room, it’s been remarkably preserved since Elizabethan times and still has hand-painted wall decoration from the late 16th century. This rare artwork survived thanks to oak paneling installed in the following century, and was only rediscovered in 1927.

Part of the decoration includes a religious text:
“And last of thi rest be thou
Gods servante for that hold I best / In the mornynge earlye
Serve god devoutlye
Feare god above allthynge. . .”

This week the Oxford Preservation Trust is offering guided tours of the Painted Room. If you can’t make it, BBC has posted a video tour of the room, led by some silly guy in an anachronistic tricorne hat. The Trust is also working on making the rooms permanently available to the public.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Philadelphia’s oldest tavern toasts 150 years

The oldest continuously operated bar in Philadelphia (and one of the oldest in the country) began celebrating its sesquicentennial this week. McGillin’s Old Ale House opened in 1860, the year President Lincoln was elected, making it almost 150 years old.

While the anniversary isn’t technically until 2010, McGillin’s decided to start the party 150 days in advance, so if you find yourself in Philly, stop in and raise a glass. The bar has already started brewing and selling a special 1860 IPA and has a full schedule of anniversary events lined up, like book signings, an Oktoberfest party, and a Fall festival.

The pre-Civil-War tavern has a colorful history. When the original owner died, his wife took over the business and kept a list of troublemakers not allowed in. Among them was her own father. Locals consider the bar a Philadelphia institution and its “old-time character” has earned it spots on lists like America’s Most Authentic Irish Pubs (even though it doesn’t serve Guinness) and Coolest Bars in the U.S.

[via USA Today]