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Visit The Bard at Barley Hall

Pre-book your visit to a major new exhibition at York’s Barley Hall. Starting from 23rd July and housed in the restored medieval townhouse, a unique setting for the new displays, this exhibition will feature costumes worn by Hollywood actors on stage and screen, and give visitors a chance to perform some of the great plays on stage themselves!

The exhibition looks at how England’s most famous playwright, William Shakespeare, represented the past in his plays. Centred around the three great themes of Shakespeare’s works – history, tragedy and comedy – the exhibition will also explore how York has continued to reconstruct and revisit its past through drama. The team that have curated this exhibition has looked into the ways in which modern versions of Shakespeare’s plays have tackled similar themes, sourcing costumes worn by Michael Fassbender in the 2015 film version of Macbeth, Al Pacino in 2004’s Merchant of Venice and Kate Winslet’s Ophelia costume from Hamlet.

Barley Hall Exhibition Charlotte Graham

Image credit: Charlotte Graham Photography

Visitors will find many interactive elements within the exhibition as well, such as a shadow puppet theatre where they can put their own spin on Hamlet and Macbeth. Visitors who love a selfie will not leave disappointed either as costumes will be available for both children and adults to try on and pose with their perfect Shakspearean pout.

Barley Hall Exhibtion Charlotte Graham Photography Image

Image credit: Charlotte Graham Photography

The final part of the exhibition looks at how historical drama, including Shakespeare’s histories, has been presented in York, with costumes from York Theatre Royal and some surprising items found beneath seats during the recent refurbishment of the theatre. It also looks at how Barley Hall influenced the construction of one of the most iconic Shakespearean buildings of our time, Shakespeare’s Globe.

Costumes from York Theatre Royal, including Richard III and Henry VIII costumes

Barley Hall Blog Image

Image credit: Charlotte Graham Photgraphy

The opening weekend of The Bard at Barley Hall starts on 23rd July and visitors will be serenaded as they arrive in the courtyard outside the hall by mediaeval musicians, Caliban’s Dream. Historic re-enactment troop Ting Tang will also be hosting demonstrations of the remarkable art of stage sword fighting – a common occurrence in many of Shakespeare’s plays.

And, if this isn’t enough then the weekend also sees the opening of Barley Hall Coffee Shop in the adjacent building, including al fresco tables in the courtyard. Inspired by the Georgian tradition of coffee houses, the new café comes with a historic twist, with period artefacts on display and interactive digital content to entertain and educate as visitors enjoy their coffee!

The produce served within the coffee shop is locally sourced, where possible, with coffee coming from York Emporium and bread and cakes from local suppliers. QR codes will be available on the tables for visitors to find out more about the items on display.

Barley Hall is open daily from 10.00am to 4.00pm, with admission prices of £7.50 for adults, £6.00 for concessions and £4.50 for children. Family tickets are available for £21 (family of four) or £25 (family of five). The JORVIK Group’s Pastport, which includes admission to JORVIK Viking Centre, DIG: An Archaeological Adventure, and City Walls Experience at Micklegate Bar are also available, priced from £16.50. For more details, or to prebook a visit, please visit

Promotional blog written by The JORVIK Group

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