Nick Gammage will be “walking in the footsteps of William Shakespeare” to raise funds for the museum which is now registered with Just Giving. Interesting information about this walk which passes through Amersham can be found on his fund-raising page –
In May I will be walking in the footsteps of William Shakespeare who, around 1585, left his Stratford home and family for a career in the London theatres.
My walk marks the 400th anniversary of publication of the First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays in 1623, just seven years after his death. This was a critical landmark in English history – half of the 36 plays had never been printed before – including Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra and The Tempest – and without the First Folio may all have been lost forever. It is one of the most important and priceless books ever printed (a rare copy sold at auction in 2020 for around £7 million!).
It’s not known exactly why or when Shakespeare left his wife and three young children for London, or his exact journey. But using old charts and other evidence I have pieced together his most likely route along ancient tracks which once formed part of the great “London Way” through the Midlands. Many stretches, like thew one above, are now no more than green lanes.
Shakespeare would have passed through the medieval market town of Amersham. I am raising much-needed funds for the town’s great museum which does amazing work bringing the area’s rich heritage to life.
Amersham Museum (www.amershammuseum.org) is reliant to a huge extent on donations and its tireless band of volunteers, and its income was badly hit by Covid-enforced closures. It deserves all the support it can get to secure its future.
In Tudor times the journey from Stratford to London was gruelling and dangerous: old packhorse tracks churned up by animal hooves and regularly under water; long stretches bordered by thick woodland which were a favourite haunt of highwaymen and wayside robbers.
Shakespeare, then aged around 20, may have caught a lift on William Greenaway’s horse drawn cart which each week carried goods and letters between Stratford and London. But the wheels easily became stuck in the mud and boggy ground and it was often quicker to walk – a journey of five days.
I will be walking alone, camping along the way. My journey will take me over Edge Hill, along old tracks between Wroxton and Bodicote, then through Aynho and Grendon Underwood on the London Way where its known Shakespeare put up overnight at the Ship Inn.
I will walk into The City along the old Uxbridge Road – the great highway into London from The West in Medieval times. I will pass places where Shakespeare lodged during his years in London – he never bought a home there – ending my walk at the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Bankside.
I will be posting pictures and updates along the way so do please follow my progress.
Thank you in advance on behalf of Amersham Museum for your