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A Midsummer Night's Drench

I went along to Kenilworth Castle last night to see an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by the "Lord Chamberlain's Men". Although this company is only 15 years old the name is taken from the company which Shakespeare himself performed with (including visits to Coventry's St Mary's Guildhall).


There is a Coventry connection to the play as it is strongly suggested that “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was commissioned for the wedding of Thomas Berkeley to Elizabeth Carey. Elizabeth Carey was herself related to Queen Elizabeth through the Boleyn family (and was goddaughter to the Queen). Thomas Berkeley's home was Caludon Castle in Wyken, Coventry. His birth coincided with Elizabeth I's famous visit to Kenilworth in 1575 where she was lavishly entertained by Robert Dudley. He shared Queen Elizabeth as a godmother with his future wife Elizabeth Carey. Thomas' father Henry Berkeley (the last aristocrat to die at Caludon after outliving his son) was godson to Queen Elizabeth's father Henry VIII.


Elizabeth Carey’s father (like her grandfather) was patron to the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (Shakespeare’s company). Her Grandfather was Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth Carey herself was interested in dreams (mentioned in Thomas Nashe’s “The Terror of the Night”) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” also makes references to Queen Elizabeth (godmother to both Elizabeth Carey and her groom Thomas Berkeley).


I am expanding on the links between Caludon Castle and Kenilworth Castle - particularly Robert Dudley's interactions with the Berkeleys) in a soon to be published pamphlet looking at Coventry and the Tudors.


The opportunity to see the performance at Kenilworth was too good to miss although the weather was not so good. The play was abandoned after the interlude. Both players and audience were completely drenched by a torrential downpour! It had been excellent entertainment though.


Off to Caludon now with my dog Spike and I am hoping for sunnier days as my ramble continues......

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