Trust hopes to open 'Shakespeare's hotel room' up for viewings

Oxford Mail: Debbie Dance Buy this photo » Debbie Dance

IT WAS reputedly once Shakespeare’s hotel room but it could soon be permanently open to the public.

Hundreds of shoppers walk past the Painted Room in Cornmarket Street every day without realising what is hidden above clothes shop Republic.

Now the Oxford Preservation Trust is hoping to change all that.

The trust has taken on the lease of the room from Oxford City Council in order to carry out research and find a way of opening it up to everyone.

Director Debbie Dance said: “We have been aware of the Painted Room for a long time. When it was first rediscovered our offices were there.

“But people don’t really know about it and it is gradually getting lost. There was a sign above the door, which has been removed, and peoples’ memories are short.

“It is a very important building and people used to be shown around it on a very ad-hoc basis.

“We have taken on the lease until December 2013 in order to find a solution. We want it to remain in the public domain and we want to understand what condition it is in.”

Ms Dance said she doubted the trust would be able to add the Painted Room to the property it owns across Oxford because the price would be too high.

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In September 2011 the room was put up for rent as an office by the city council on condition that the tenant allowed visitors to come and see the room by arrangement. Last time the rent was advertised, it was at £11,500 a year.

Its last tenant was care provider Oxford Aunts, which allowed people who enquired to visit the room by appointment, although there was no sign telling passers-by of its existence.

Oxford Aunts said someone would come and visit the room every couple of months.

Since taking on the lease this autumn, the trust has been discussing how to organise more regular viewing slots when members of the public can see the room.

The room was discovered in 1927 and is decorated with 16th century murals, which had been covered by oak panels, canvas and wallpaper.

On its walls are decorations of fruit and flowers, as well as warnings such as “Serve god Devoutlye” and “Feare god above allthyng”.

It was once part of the Crown Inn that was run by Shakespeare’s friend John Davenant, who was Mayor of Oxford in 1621.

The bard is believed to have stayed in the room when travelling between London and Stratford.

According to 17th century diarist John Aubrey, William Shakespeare was “wont to goe into Warwickshire once a yeare” and he “did commonly on his journey lye at this house in Oxon”.

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