‘It is my Content, wearied with studdye to solace my Selfe in the Garden And to see the spoourts of nature how in every several spetise she sheweth her workmanship.’ Sir John Oglander, 1632
It goes without saying of course that the Shakespeare Institute Library is the most wonderful environment in which to study, but even the most industrious of students must sometimes take a rest. How lucky we are then, not only to have a fantastic library, but also a beautiful garden in which to spend time taking in the scents, colours and glories of the changing seasons or sharing lunch or conversation with friends. This photograph was taken at the beginning of March, as the garden awakes from its winter slumber with a glorious show of crocuses, daffodils and primroses. Later in the summer, there will be roses, viburnum, lavender and rosemary in the well-tended beds, a show of planted pots and tubs around the patio and in the autumn, a colourful display of turning leaves on the many shrubs. All of this is looked after by David Gould, the Institute’s gardener and caretaker, who mows and prunes and waters to keep the garden looking so special.
The garden is also visited by more than just Institute members: Puck the cat has recently taken up residence, clearly regarding the garden as his territory – he is however, quite happy to share it with suitably approved admirers!
The garden is also a place of memories and celebration. The friendship bench in the back of this photograph was placed there in memory of Lizz Ketterer, a former student of the Institute who tragically died in 2011, aged just 32, while another bench celebrates the Ruby wedding anniversary of a couple who met at the Shakespeare Institute in 1968.
The garden also houses a number of interesting architectural features. The ‘Elizabethan Tower’, actually an eighteenth century folly and now known as the gazebo, used to accommodate the Institute’s only computer and previous to that is reputed to have been where Marie Corelli did her writing – maybe looking out over the garden gave her inspiration! The stone archway which links the front of the garden to the back has also been there since Corelli’s day. A more recent addition is a bust of William Shakespeare himself amongst the shrubs and flowers.
So if you find yourself ‘wearied with study’ and looking for a place of solace and rest, just take a stroll around the Institute garden and wonder at the ‘sports of nature’.
Dr Jill Francis, Library Support Assistant, Shakespeare Institute Library