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Saving Shakespeare's Birthplace

9. A replica Birthplace in Surrey

The Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens were a popular visitor attraction, hosting all kinds of entertainments. For a modest fee visitors could partake of refreshments supplied by a waiter, they could have picnics, visit exotic animals or marvel at the birds living on an island at the centre of a large lake. Spectacle was key: dioramas, panoramas, balloon rides, boat trips and dramatic re-enactments such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 

The Times reported that a 'perfect facsimile representation' of Shakespeare's Birthplace opened at the Gardens in July 1847. The detail of the replica Birthplace was astonishing. It was, according to the article, no mere 'scenic representation' standing there for show, but an actual house built to the same dimensions as the real thing.


A sketch of the replica Birthplace at Surrey Zoological Gardens, 1847

Artist unknown


See a publicity poster below


Publicity poster, 1847

A poster promoting the Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens and its many attractions. The life size replica of Shakespeare's Birthplace is mentioned alongside a firework display, harmonic rock band and a menagerie that includes a giraffe.