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Wednesday, May 04th

Last update:04 May 8:56 GMT

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Out and About

New dig at Shakespeare's birthplace

portraitDig for Shakespeare open daily 11 April-30 October 2011
Archaeologists will be delving into layers of Tudor soil untouched for 400 years as they resume the 'Dig for Shakespeare' on the site of the playwright’s last home at New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon.  For the next seven months, visitors to Nash’s House and New Place will be able to watch the team of archaeologists and volunteers as they dig deeper every day into the mysteries of Shakespeare’s later years.
The live archaeological project will explore foundations and other remains thought to date from Shakespeare’s era, which were uncovered shortly before the Dig was put under wraps for winter.  Dr Paul Edmondson, Head of Learning & Research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “We are now down to virgin ground which has not been excavated by previous expeditions.  This is where we have the most exciting potential to shed new light on Shakespeare’s life and times.”
The Dig for Shakespeare has already unearthed evidence which is challenging the historic interpretation of how Shakespeare’s house would have looked, and how the property was used.   Paul Edmondson said, “The so-called ‘bay window’ identified by the antiquarian archaeologist Halliwell-Phillips in 1862 was thought to belong to the 18th century house at New Place.  Halliwell stopped short when he reached the foundations, but we are now going deeper to excavate the underlying medieval features which could tell us much more about the house that Shakespeare bought and renovated, and how it related to Nash’s House next door, where his granddaughter lived .”
Finds so far include roof tiles, pottery and animal remains which suggest that New Place was at times a high status household, with venison, and salt and fresh water fish supplementing the diet of meat from cows, pigs, sheep, geese and chickens.  Shakespeare was a wealthy and famous man by the time of his death in 1616; his daughter Susanna is known to have entertained Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles, at New Place in 1643.
New Place  was also a hive of activity; features dating from 1500-1700 include a possible oven or kiln, a brick-built storage pit, and a possible quarry pit, together with evidence of bone working and lace making suggest that the site was used for a wide range of cottage industries and crafts for a long period.
An exhibition of key finds from the first phases of the Dig for Shakespeare will be on display to visitors at Nash’s House, together with new artefacts unearthed this year.  Visitors to Nash’s House and New Place can also play a hands-on role in helping the archaeologists to sieve through tons of spoil from the excavations.  Dr Diana Owen, Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “This is probably the most painstaking sieving exercise ever undertaken, and it has already proved invaluable in recovering artefacts which were either discarded or overlooked by Halliwell.  From fishbones to beads, or perhaps a quill tip, even the smallest finds will help us unlock the secrets of Shakespeare’s final years, and of the house which has played an important part in Stratford’s history for seven centuries.”
Volunteers and visitors will be closely monitored by trained members of the Birmingham Archaeology team, based at University of Birmingham, who are undertaking the Dig on behalf of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity which promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times. Some 200 volunteers have contributed to the excavations so far, and more than 65,000 people visited the site last year.
The Dig for Shakespeare is open to the public seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm (extending to 6.00pm in July and August). The archaeological team works in shifts, with a break between 1.00-2.00pm.  Admission prices are £12.50 for adults, £11.50 for concessions and £8.00 for children, which also includes entry into two other properties owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Hall’s Croft.  The ticket is valid for 12 months, so visitors can come back as many times as they like to see the progress of the Dig, which continues until 30 October.  Income from ticket sales helps the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to keep the five Shakespeare Houses and Gardens open year round, care for the world’s largest Shakespearian collection open to the public, and provide world-class educational programmes.

Open air pool is a summer 'must visit'

swimming_pool002Cherwell District Council, Banbury Town Council and Parkwood Community Leisure are pleased to announce that Woodgreen Leisure Centre open air pool will open to the public this year from Saturday, 28 May. The pool has been a highlight in Banburians' summers days out since the early 1950s (pictured left).
Cherwell District Council portfolio holder for environment, recreation and health, Councillor George Reynolds, said: "Over the past two years the pool has re-established itself as a must-visit Cherwell summer attraction. Already this year the pool has played host to a British canoe water polo national team training session. And on 8 May it will be the scene for the Banbury Triathlon. Then from 28 May things will get into full swing when it opens to the public in time for May half term."
The costs will be £3.50 for adults and £2.20 for juniors and senior citizens per session.
For full details of opening times, including early-bird, courses and aqua fit sessions, visit or phone Woodgreen Leisure Centre on 01295 262742.

Hayseed Dixie and UB40 at Fairport!

Britain's friendliest music festival, Fairport's Cropredy Convention, announced the acts booked for the opening day and  ticket prices for the event.
The festihayseed_dixieval will take place on Thursday 11, Friday 12 and Saturday 13 August  2011 at its usual site on farmland north of Banbury, Oxfordshire, three miles from Junction 11 of the M40 motorway. Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 1 March.
The first day's music will start at 4pm and finish at 11.30pm on Thursday 11 August and the acts will be:
Cropredy's Thursday headline act is one of the most influential reggae outfits in the world. Birmingham-based UB40 has recorded great albums and top ten hits for three decades. The band combines political messages of tolerance and hope with world-class musicianship and remains as popular as ever. UB40 has been on the Cropredy crowd's wish-list for years - now that wish becomes a joyous reality.
Hayseed Dixie
A taste of mountain music at Cropredy. Nashville's Appalachian hellraisers, Hayseed Dixie, take American bluegrass and give it a rock edge, a style described as 'deranged rockgrass.' The band is best known for its hillbilly renditions of Dixiefied rock classics but they also have an impressive repertoire of self-penned songs. Hayseed Dixie's live set has to be seen to be believed.
Home Service
Born out of the Albion Band, Home Service quickly became one of the best-loved groups on the British folkrock scene. Now reforming for 2011, John Tams, Graeme Taylor and the band are returning to Cropredy (Home Service played the festival twice in the 1980s). With its distinctive brass sound and great repertoire Home Service's reunion performance is a must for folk fans.
Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts
Fairport is renowned for nurturing young artists and the band's 2011 Winter Tour concerts feature an opening set by talented newcomers Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts. With influences spanning British folk and Americana, Kat and Jamie's set features fine vocals, finger-style guitar and soaring violin.
Fairport (Acoustic) Convention
A first for Cropredy - the festival opens with a short welcoming set by the host band. Fairport Convention will also close the event with its customary marathon set on Saturday evening but this will be the first year that the band has 'book-ended' its festival.
Tickets for Fairport's Cropredy Convention go on sale Tuesday 1 March 2011. There are substantial discounts for early purchase.
As in previous years, the festival offers three-day (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) tickets, two-day (Friday and Saturday) tickets, and Saturday-only tickets.
Prices for tickets purchased before 1 June 2011 are:
Three-day tickets  £90
Two-day tickets  £80
Saturday-only  £60

Prices for tickets purchased between 1 June and 31 July 2011 are:
Three-day tickets  £95
Two-day tickets  £85
Saturday-only  £65

Prices for tickets purchased after 31 July 2011 (including at the gate) are:
Three-day tickets  £100
Two-day tickets  £90
Saturday-only  £70

Children under 12 years old are admitted free provided they are accompanied by an adult ticket holder.

Camping is charged per vehicle (up to five occupants). For added convenience and security, tents are erected next to the camping party's vehicle.

Three-day camping costs £35 per vehicle, two-day camping costs £30 per vehicle. Camping on Saturday night is free for people with a festival ticket. Motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians camp free of charge.

Tickets can be ordered online from
Postal ticket purchase from PO Box 8413, Bilsthorpe, Notts NG22 8WY

The story of the trainer

‘Sport to Street’ follows the lifespan of the training shoe, from its early beginnings as a soft-soled tennis shoe worn by Henry VIII to the iconic footwear of choice that it has become today.
Northampton is home to one of the world’s most famous shoe collections and has the oldest known running shoe worn in the early 1860s by the then Lord Spencer.
Sport to Street looks at the rise of rubber-soled footwear for sports in the 19th century and the early sneakers manufactured by legendary US companies Converse and Keds.   By the 1970s trainers were still predominantly worn by sportsmen and women for their comfort and performance-enhancing design.  This only started to change with the craze for aerobics, health and fitness and improved trainer technology that helped move them away from being simply practical items to footwear that makes a fashion statement.
The exhibition, which features leading brands including Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok and New Balance, delves into the relationship between brands and sub cultures as well as brands and celebrities.
It is part of a wider trainer project paid for by the Heritage Lottery Collecting Cultures fund to enhance collections in a specific field.
Rebecca Shawcross, Northampton Borough Council museum’s resident shoe expert, said: "The story of the rise of the trainer from its humble beginnings as a simple sports shoe to its status today as one of the coolest items of footwear is fascinating.  We are lucky to have what is fast becoming the best trainer collection in the world, and this is the first time we have ever showcased so many in one place at one time.”
Sport to Street will be showing at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery from 15 January to 3 July 2011.  Opening times are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 2pm to 5pm.  Admission is free.

BYHP ball at Aynho Park

byhp_web_openerGuests enjoyed a super evening at Aynho Park recently to raise funds for the Banbury Young Homeless Persons Trust (BYHP). For more photographs from the event click the picture (left).

Deddington farmers market

Saturday, 23 October 2010 – Deddington Farmers’ Market in the Market Place, Deddington, 9.00am – 12.30pm.  Around 50 stalls with locally-produced foods, drinks, plants and crafts, with some organic produce. 

Airfix Spitfire model (1:1) at RAF Cosford

michael_beetham_conservation_centreThe Royal Air Force Museum is pleased to announce that the Airfix 1:1 scale Spitfire model, as featured in James May’s Toy Stories programme has returned to Cosford.  Following maintenance and strengthening work completed by Gateguards in Cornwall, the giant model has now returned to the Museum and is on display in Hangar 1.