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Hamlet at The Elvetham

To be, or not to be, that is the question

A Spectacular Performance

The Elvetham are delighted to be hosting the talented Lord Chamberlain's Men as they perform Shakespeare's Hamlet.

This outdoor performance presnets the play as Shakespeare first saw it - in the open air, with an all male cast and Elizabethan costumes, music and dance. 

Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his attempts to exact revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet's mother.


Friday 14th June

Doors Open at 6:00PM
Performance Starts at 7:00PM


This is an outdoor event and seating is not provided so please bring along a chair or blanket.

Drinks and food will be available to purchase. You are also welcome to bring a picnic but outisde alcohol and glass is prohibited.

Only assistance dogs are permitted at this performance.



History of Shakespeare at The Elvetham

In the Summer of 1591, Queen Elizibeth I visited The Elvetham on a summer tour of Hampshire. 

A large party lasting four days was thrown in the Queen's honour. There were musicians, poets, dancers and actors to take part in plays, mock battles and musical renditions in tribute to the queen.

 A lake was dug out to the perfect figure of a half moon as the setting for the central water pageant. A carefully written and intricately choreographed battle designed as a shining spotlight on her military leadership against the Spanish Armada.  

It is believed that William Shakespeare may have been in attendance to the Elvetham Entertainment or even perhaps performed as one of its actors, with a number of scholars believing that the water pageant was a large inspiration for the play “A Midsummer Nights Dream” written in 1595 not too long after the queen’s visit to Elvetham. 

“A Midsummer Nights Dream” is steeped in mythological allusion, with classical characters from Greek and Roman stories woven together with the pagan world of fairies. The story opens with two characters - Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons - preparing for their marriage with a four-day festival, mirroring the Elvetham Entertainment.  

The play also reflects elements of the water pageant, a prominent feature of the Elvetham Entertainment, with Shakespeare’s narrative including; a moon that is ‘watery’ (hinting towards the half-moon shaped artificial lake create for the Elvetham Entertainment), reference to singing from a ‘dolphins back’ (a metaphor for a ship), and approaching the ‘fair vestal throned to the west’ (referencing Queen Elizabeth watching the pageant to the west of the lake). 

“A Midsummer Nights Dream” features a magical world of fairies with many of its central characters being fairies, which could have been influenced by the Elvetham Entertainment’s aim to portray Queen Elizabeth as a ‘Fairy Queen’. On the morning Queen Elizabeth’s royal court left Elvetham, a ‘Fairy Queen’ gave a speech in honour of her majesty in which she was portrayed as the character ‘Elisa’, a character connected to the fairy world. Queen Elizabeth was so pleased with the oration that she apparently requested to hear the speech for a second time.