he home where William Shakespeare died was torn down back in 1759. Like most of the world’s great historical sites, it will soon be rebuilt in China.
After years of negotiations, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has signed an exclusive cooperation agreement with the city of Fuzhou in southern Jiangxi province to provide help in reconstructing the two homes in the English market town of Stratford-upon-Avon where the world’s most celebrated playwright was born, spent much of his life, and passed away.
Fuzhou is not just any Chinese city of 3-plus million, but the hometown of Tang Xianzu, perhaps China’s greatest playwright and a contemporary of Shakespeare, though he didn’t know that at the time. The replica homes will be placed in a knockoff Stratford-upon-Avon that is under construction in an ambitious tourist village being built on the outskirts of the city called Sanweng (三翁). The name literally means “three elders,” referring to Shakespeare, Tang, and Miguel de Cervantes, all three of whom happened to die in 1616.
Each of the “three elders” will be honored in their own special section of the 89-hectare scenic village, which will boast recreations of the environments and landscapes that inspired their writings. Fuzhou is aiming to have Sanweng completed and ready for waves of tourists by 2022.
While China is known for its recreations of world wonders, those recreations aren’t exactly known for their historical accuracy. According to the terms of the agreement, the trust will help to faithfully recreate Shakespeare’s two homes by providing its expertise and sharing architectural details with Chinese planners.
The New Place, the home where Shakespeare died, promises to be especially challenging to reconstruct since it was torn down more than two-and-a-half centuries ago. This will be the first time that either of the homes have been replicated. It’s not clear how much money the trust will receive in return for its help.
“Sanweng celebrates both our cultures, brings us close together and allows us both to learn about each other. We have a statue of Tang Xianzu in Shakespeare’s birthplace,” Philippa Ann Rawlinson, director of marketing and operations at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, was quoted as saying by China’s official Xinhua news agency.
Over the years, China has tried to draw parallels between the lives of Tang and the great British bard. During a state visit to the United Kingdom in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping called Tang, the “Shakespeare of the East.” The following year, Xinhua published this extremely trippy music video that you really have to watch at least once in your life: