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The resident Tudors and some special guests at Mary Arden’s Farm — the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s mother — will be spinning some yarns when they host Woolly Week during May Half-Term (25th May to 2nd June).

Watch traditional sheep shearing demonstrations using Tudor hand shears, and take part in wool crafts like weaving on a loom, felting fleece and braiding. Braids were a staple of Tudor clothing, lacing items together, as well as being used as drawstrings on purses, to tie items onto belts, and even as shoelaces.

The Stratford-upon-Avon Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers will be demonstrating how fleece is prepared and spun into wool, while an exclusive range of wool produced from the fleece sheared from the rare breed Portland sheep during last year’s Woolly Week will be on sale in the shop. You can also meet some of the many new arrivals at the 23-acre working farm in the Warwickshire village of Wilmcote.

William Shakespeare himself had links to the wool trade through his father, John, who was known to have operated as a ‘wool brogger’ — an unlicensed, and therefore illegal, wool dealer — after the occupation had been restricted to state-approved merchants only, following an Act of Parliament from 1553.

Samantha Gull, house steward at Mary Arden’s Farm, said, “Woolly Week is one of the highlights in our annual calendar of events. There will be lots of opportunities to get hands-on and have a go at different wool crafts, as well as seeing demonstrations by traditional craftspeople.”

A host of other activities take place at the Shakespeare family homes during May Half-Term (25 May-2 June). All activities included in admission, unless otherwise stated. Full listings below and online

Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote

Woolly Week
Daily, 10am-5pm
Have a go at spinning wool, watch traditional Tudor sheep shearing, try your hand at wool crafts such as weaving on a loom, felting fleece and braiding, and see demonstrations by the Stratford-upon-Avon Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Also buy a ball of wool that has been spun from the fleece that was sheared from the rare breed Portland sheep last summer.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

‘I Never Liked Shakespeare!’
25-27 May, 10am-5pm
Don’t think Shakespeare is for you? Our in-house acting troupe Shakespeare Aloud! and award-winning poet Roy McFarlane will perform a new tongue-in-cheek play that will amaze, bemuse, and help you conquer those Shakes-fears!

Shakespeare’s New Place, Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Play-Doh’s The Thing
Daily, 12pm-4pm
Take inspiration from the sculptures at New Place and design your own tribute to Shakespeare using Play-Doh.

Anne Hathway’s Cottage, Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon

Garden of Inspiration
Daily, 9am-5pm
Get hands-on with our The Tempest-themed activities in the Sculpture Garden: dress up our scarecrows as the sprites, create your own storm in our musical corner, or just hunker down in our natural story pods.

The Activity Tent
Daily, 12pm-5pm (Open weekends, bank holidays and school holidays until 3 November)
Join us throughout the summer season for new games, quests, crafts and other hands-on activities for all ages, all based on A Midsummer Night’s DreamRomeo and Juliet and The Tempest.

Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon

Spice Up Your Life
29 May, 12pm-4pm
Pario Gallico will tell all about spices from the Jacobean era and how they were used.

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