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Eighteenth Century Stratford - The Garrick Story
In 1741, David Garrick, then in his 30's, made his reputation as a foremost actor of his day in the title role of Shakespeare's "Richard III". He went on to establish his credentials as the quintessentially Shakespearean interpreter of the classical age of English drama.
It is no surprise therefore that for1769 he developed the idea of a Shakespearean Festival here at Stratford-upon-Avon - which continues to this day, over the weekend nearest to Shakespeare's Birthday on 23 April. By more recent tradition these celebrations incorporate the Freedom March by the Corps of Royal Engineers from Long Marston, Beating Retreat, unfurling of nearly 100 flags of the nations of the world particularly associated with Shakespeare and Stratford, and of course the procession by hundreds bearing floral tributes entwined with rosemary for remembrance to the dramatist's tomb beside the High Altar at Holy Trinity Church.
When the Town Hall was re-built in 1768, David Garrick himself presented a statue of Shakespeare for the niche on the north side - and in return, the appreciative Mayor and Council elected him the first Freeman of the Borough. The presentational scroll was contained in a small neat chest made from the wood of a mulberry tree planted by William Shakespeare at New Hall over a century before.