The Mary Arden’s Farm blog is one of the many online projects powered by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust , who is leading the world in democratising Shakespeare in the digital age. We are a real Tudor farm sharing stories about life on the farm and we’ve been blogging since 1573.
It is the year 1573. Nine years ago plague hit the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Three in twenty of the population died. Entire households were entombed in their own homes and perished. Everybody was affected. Young William Shakespeare is now nine years old and was lucky to survive being born in that terrible year. The Shakespeares’ had already lost their two daughters, Joan and Margaret, as babies a few years before, and so we imagine that plague, or even the slightest threat of it, were constant fears for most people living in towns, but particularly for young people. We suggest his parents took no chances, so our story is that wherever there are rumors of plague, they walk their children to the village of Wilmcote and take shelter in the farm where Mary was born and brought up.
Master Joe has been the Farm Manager at Mary Arden’s Farm since 1999. Joe looks after our rare breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, ponies and poultry with the help of Ed, his attractive young Assistant and a team of enthusiastic volunteers. Joe also leads the way with an exciting wildlife conservation programme and can also be seen in his Tudor clothes playing fiddle and bagpipes to accompany our rustic Elizabethan dancers.