Rare texts to set up major Warwick exhibit

St Mary's church, Warwick

St Mary's church, Warwick

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A centuries-old bible and a very early Shakespeare text will be displayed at St Mary’s church as part of a major exhibition to mark 400 years since the playwright’s death.

The church will even welcome screen star Dame Judi Dench to talk about the special exhibits - which have been described as the “twin pillars of Western society”- when they are displayed next month.

Volunteers in the church's Beauchamp Chapel.

Patrick Littlejohn (guide) and Felicity Bostock (Parish Administrator) looking at the south wall. 
MHLC-15-01-14 St Mary's Jan20 ENGNNL00120140115143507

Volunteers in the church's Beauchamp Chapel. Patrick Littlejohn (guide) and Felicity Bostock (Parish Administrator) looking at the south wall. MHLC-15-01-14 St Mary's Jan20 ENGNNL00120140115143507

The ten-week long exhibition, titled Shakespeare 400: History, Heritage & Faith, will be held at the Warwick town centre church from April 14 to June 30.

It will bring the Shakespeare First Folio - a text containing 36 plays which dates back to 1623 - to residents for the first time.

The precious volume of works will come on loan from London’s V&A Museum and be proudly shown off alongside the first edition of the King James Bible.

The bible, which was first used in 1611, belongs to Cambridge University and is another example of a rare and interesting text which volunteers at the church say they cannot wait to bring to the people of Warwick.

Announcing the early details of the ten-week display, which will run alongside talks and activities, a spokesperson said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be announcing this exhibition. It is very exciting for Warwick and already proving very popular.”

The major festival has been given a £10,000 grant from Warwickshire County 
Council to make sure the celebrations are suitably spectacular to coincide with national celebrations to mark the 400th year since the death of William Shakespeare.

It will be opened on April 21 by Dame Judi who will speak and share her passion for both Shakespeare and her Christian faith.

In tandem with the exhibition the festival will include theatre performances and film screenings including a showing of Henry V to include an interview with actor Michael Maloney.

There will also be musical events and talks by celebrities and scholars on the importance of the celebrations.

In May, St Mary’s will host the Good Queen Bess Fest - an Elizabethan weekend run in collaboration with Kenilworth Castle, Lord Leycester Hospital and Charlecote Park.

Held within the Collegiate church, the exhibition will look at Queen Elizabeth I and her links to the Earls of Warwick, St Mary’s houses the Beauchamp Chapel.

For more information on events, or tickets, visit www.stmaryswarwick.org.uk or contact the church on 01926 403940.

Tickets from £3.50, or £15.50 for Dame Judi’s appearance.