Bringing Shakespeare’s Arden to life

on Jul 04 in Uncategorized by

Shakespeare is likely to have visited his mother’s family, the Arden’s, who lived at Peddimore on the edge of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, on the edge of the Forest of Arden.

From Peddimore Shakespeare probably walked through New Hall valley to have a pint or two in the Three Tons pub on Sutton’s ancient High Street.

Shakespeare would have seen the Royal Town freshly restored by its sixteenth century benefactor, Bishop Vesey. The town’s restoration work followed the grant of a royal charter for Sutton Coldfield by Henry VIII in 1528, at Vesey’s request.

Shakespeare must have liked what he saw, that’s why he mentions it in his play Henry IV, in which Falstaff states; “We’ll to Sutton Coldfield tonight.”

The Forest of Arden once stretched from Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon to the River Tame at Tamworth and covered most of Birmingham.

Nick Corbett’s novel ‘Arden’, explores sense of place in the contemporary English Midlands, Shakespeare’s old stomping ground. It’s the story of a group of friends whose lives are intertwined through the years; they transform their hometown and each other.

The locations in ‘Arden’ include Sutton Park, Middleton Hall, and Oscott College – designed by the world famous architect, Augustus Pugin.

Nick says, “I lived for a time on the council estate opposite Oscott College. Whilst the council estate became very run down, Pugin’s architecture inspired me. It also gave me the idea for the end of the story, with a tumultuous event behind those Gothic gates.”

Nick Corbett (left) with Will Alsop, architect of The Public, where media apprentices have made film for Arden.

The Royal Town name hadn’t been used in Sutton Coldfield for almost a century as civil servant claimed the pre-fix was lost when the town became a municipal borough in 1887.

Nick Corbett initiated a claim to reuse the Royal Town pre-fix, and a successful campaign run by town’s MP, Andrew Mitchell, with backing from the Sutton Coldfield Observer, resulted in the Rt Hon Greg Clarke MP, Minister of State, confirming in the House of Commons, on behalf of the Government, that the people of Sutton Coldfield can again make use of the title, the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. This is now recorded for posterity in Hansard.

The Minister’s ruling confirms that Sutton Coldfield has continued to be a Royal Town since 1528 and in the words of Henry VIII, it will be so “forever”.

‘Arden’ is available from Amazon & book stores: ARDEN

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