It was William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this week, but did you know he may have spent a couple of those years in and around Preston?
A story that has baffled literary scholars for years, did Shakespeare spend some of his ‘lost years’ at Hoghton Tower or at the outskirts of Preston?
It is an intriguing thought that the greatest poet might have spent some of his adolescence residing near Preston.
Connections have been made between Shakespeare, Preston and Hoghton Tower.
The 1581 will of Alexander Hoghton, held at the Lancashire Records Office in Preston, shows a dedication to “William Shakeshafte”.
Alexander Hoghton Esq had a residence at Lea Hall just outside Preston at the time.
The will proved Shakespeare stayed at Hoghton Tower, and he changed his surname in order to avoid attracting the attention of anti-Papist authorities in Elizabethan England. Shakespeare had possible links to Lancashire families with known Catholic sympathies.
The Hoghtons, ‘de Hoghtons’ as they were then known, owned the Lea area of Preston as well as in Hoghton. They built Lea Hall on the south side of the Savick Brook, sadly no longer there. The Hoghton family still own land in Lea.
In his earlier years Shakespeare is said to have found “a home with a band of players in Lancashire” and this band eventually found its was to the Hoghton household.
A further theory states that John Cottam, who was a teacher in Stratford and could have been been one of Shakespeare’s tutors, moved to Tarnacre in Lancashire not far from the home of Alexander Hoghton, in whose household, of course, dwelt William Shakeshafte. Could it be that Cottam had Shakespeare to the Hoghtons?
Shakespeare was baptised on 26 April 1564 and his actual birth date is unknown. He died on 23 April 1616, aged 52.
For more, read our previous article by Ryan Owen Gibson.