Built in 1866, in a Jacobean style, the flagship 4-star
Menzies Welcombe Hotel Spa & Golf Club (Warwick Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 0NR; T: 01789 295252) sits in 157 acres of beautiful grounds on the eastern fringes of
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Dine in the ornate two-AA-rosetted restaurant, majoring on traditional English fare,
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over the Cotswolds; an 18 hole championship golf course, tennis and a luxurious spa with indoor swimming pool, external
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Alternatively, roughly 6 miles east of Stratford-upon-Avon, the luxury 4-star
Walton Hall (Walton, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire CV35 9HU; T: 01789 842 424) sits in 65 acres of beautiful countryside, with a history dating back to the 16th Century.
56 rooms and suites, all individually decorated in a contemporary style, many offering spectacular views over the estate’s lake, gardens and
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Dine in the two-AA-rosetted Moncreiffe Restaurant - named after a
wife of a former owner, Harriett Moncrieffe, who is rumoured to have had an affair with the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. The Health Club has its indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room, gym and fitness studio. The real deal! Also
contains the separate, and excellent, Walton Hotel in
WAS SHAKESPEARE GAY?
Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets (quite possibly not intended for their 1609 publication, by a notoriously unscrupulous publisher), the vast majority (126) seemingly addressing the poet's love for a young man, ‘the Fair Lord’, often assumed to be the same person as the 'Mr W.H.' to whom the sonnets are dedicated: perhaps one of Shakespeare's patrons – most likely either Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton; or William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, both considered handsome in their youth.
However, that said, the only completely explicit references to sexual acts or physical lust occur in sonnets addressing ‘the Dark Lady’, which unambiguously state that the poet and this Lady are lovers. Moreover, Shakespeare himself was a married man with several children – although that was, indeed for some closets still is, rather the ‘norm’!
Thus, the sonnets have led some to suggest Shakespeare was, at the very least, bi, if not outright gay.
Against this, others counter that Shakespeare was not expressing the author’s own feelings here, but those of a character, ‘the poet’; or, if he was, that many of the frequent tender gushing expressions of love for, and admiration for the beauty of, the Fair Lord (most famously, 'Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’) are made on a purely platonic, non-sexual, level, in a manner now alien to us.
The debate will rage and the best, surely only, answer we can hope for, at this distance of time, lies in the sonnets themselves. Read and place your bet. Having so done myself, this humble writer thinks it beyond all reasonable doubt that Shakespeare was hopelessly, helplessly besotted by another male - the sonnets being his heartfelt, oft-anguished and well-nigh obsessive love-letters to him.