Love’s Labour’s Won

Agecroft Hall’s authentic history sets the stage for the 19th annual Richmond Shakespeare Festival.

Each summer, for the months of June and July, Richmond’s Quill Theatre puts on two of Shakespeare’s works en plein air at Agecroft Hall. This year, the Richmond Shakespeare Festival lineup includes Love’s Labour’s Lost, June 2 – 25, and MacBeth, July 7 – 30, as well as a special one-night-only performance of the Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) on July 1.

Agecroft Hall has proven a particularly successful venue for the Shakespeare Festival for 19 years, perhaps not least because the Tudor home, built in the late 15th century just prior to the heydey of the bard himself, originally stood in Lancashire County, England and there remained for the better part of 500 years.

In the 1910s and ‘20s, many wealthy Americans were building homes intended to emulate European countryside estates and manors. In 1925, in a concerted effort to out-do them all, Thomas C. Williams, Jr., an entrepreneur and businessman based out of Richmond, at his architect’s advice, purchased the Agecroft home (which at that time stood abandoned and in disrepair at its original site), and transported the whole building to Virginia, where it was reconstructed in the elegant Windsor Farms neighborhood over a period of 2 years and at a cost of $250,000 (the equivalent of $6 million today).

The reconstructed Agecroft Hall abandoned the original floorplan, yet retained the majority of materials which had been dismantled and transported from England. The leaded glass windows which made the trip intact were installed in the home’s Great Hall, and modern amenities such as plumbing and electricity were incorporated throughout.

Today, the hall is considered one of the premier examples of Tudor architecture in the United States, so it’s no wonder audiences rush to see some of Shakespeare’s greatest works performed in the garden. It may have seemed an insurmountable feat to move an English manor across the Atlantic—but we think Mr. Williams’ labors of love were worth it. Tickets $15 – $30. AgecroftHall.comQuillTheatre.org

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