Centuries after William Shakespeare stayed in them on his way between London and Stratford, a set of rooms in a long-forgotten pub in Oxford will open to the public and offer wine and cake on Tuesday – the 449th birthday of the iconic poet.
Still bearing wall paintings from the 16th century, the Painted Rooms are the only remains of the Crown Tavern. They have been temporarily taken over by leaders at the Oxford Preservation Trust, who will recreate the ancient High Sheriff tradition of forming a procession between the Town Hall and the building to honour Shakespeare’s birthday.
© Chris Andrews
“They are hugely important to Oxford’s town history,” said Debbie Dance, the Trust Director, announcing that sweet wine and simnel cake – last enjoyed before the Rooms closed in the late 1960s – will also return for the occasion.
“We want to share them with as many people as we can.
"We are at an early stage of finding a permanent solution to give the public access. But in the meantime people can enjoy a taster of what could be in store.”
Michael Speight, the general manager of collaborators Oxford Castle Unlocked, said the initiative was “an amazing opportunity”.
“The Trust has been instrumental in preserving both Oxford Castle and this site, sharing their story with the public,” he added.
“We look forward to welcoming guests to discover another part of Oxford’s hidden history.”
The Rooms will remain open for a series of tours, starting at 1pm on Tuesday and running 10am-4pm until Sunday.