Public could be allowed to visit Bard's bedroom

The Oxford Times: Debbie Dance, of Oxford Preservation Trust, in the Painted Room, Cornmarket. Picture: OX55495 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » Debbie Dance, of Oxford Preservation Trust, in the Painted Room, Cornmarket. Picture: OX55495 Damian Halliwell

PRESERVATION campaigners have bought extra time in the bid to put one of Oxford’s hidden gems on the map.

Hundreds of people walk past the Painted Room every day without knowing it’s there.

But heritage experts hope to find out this year if they will be able to open Shakespeare’s old hotel room to the public.

Last December Oxford Preservation Trust took on a one-year lease of the Painted Room in Cornmarket and this has now been renewed.

The trust’s director Debbie Dance said: “The new owners have kindly allowed us to stay in the Painted Room which is great news.

“We will put together a feasibility study to look if we can provide public access.

“English Heritage has given us £30,000 to look at the condition of the building and wall paintings.

“There has been lots written about the Painted Room over the years but we want to bring it all together.”

Ms Dance said the trust’s investigation would finish in the new year.

In 2011 the room was put up for rent as an office by the city council on condition that the tenant allowed visitors to see the room by arrangement. Last time the rent was advertised, it was £11,500 a year.

Its last tenant was care provider Oxford Aunts, which allowed people who enquired to visit the room by appointment, although there was no sign telling passers-by of its existence.

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Oxford Aunts said someone would visit every couple of months.

The room was last open to the public last April when OPT opened it to the public for Shakespeare’s birthday.

Ms Dance said: “We want something sustainable so that people don’t forget about the Painted Room again.”

The Painted Room is now owned by the Eyre Estate.

It was rediscovered in 1927 and is decorated with 16th century murals, which had been covered by oak panels, canvas and wallpaper.

On its walls are decorations of fruit and flowers, as well as warnings such as “Serve god Devoutlye” and “Feare god above allthyng”.

It was once part of the Crown Inn run by Shakespeare’s friend John Davenant, who was Mayor of Oxford in 1621.

The Bard is believed to have stayed there when travelling between London and Stratford.

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