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Stratford group planning for influx of Bard visitors

Today marks William Shakespeare's 450th birthday, but the celebrations at his birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon will continue into the weekend.

A group called 'Playmakers' are planning ahead, so the town can handle the 20,000 or more expected visitors.

Emma Beasley and Sam Lloyd explain what the group are about.

Shakespeare's Birthday celebrations

William Shakespeare turns 450 today Credit: PA

Celebrations are starting today in Stratford-upon-Avon for William Shakespeare's birthday. The famous playwright was born in the town in 1564.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will celebrate Shakepeare's 450th birthday with a firework display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre after the evening performance of Henry IV, Part 1.

The celebrations will continue over the weekend offering a range of free family theatre activities including stage fighting workshops and blood, guts and gore make-up classes.

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Shakespeare's school opens to girls

With the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare approaching, the school that he attended in Stratford-upon-Avon will admit girls today for the first time in its history.

More than 30 girls will be among the cohort of 50 students joining the Sixth Form at King Edward VI School. In the words of the bard himself: ‘…learning, what a thing it is!’

King Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon which lists William Shakespeare as one of its past pupils Credit: ITV News Central

Hearing to take place over greenbelt homes in Stratford

Anne Hathaway's cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon Credit: PA

A hearing will take place today over controversial plans to build hundreds of homes on greenbelt land near Anne Hathaway's cottage.

The district council filed a legal challenge against the Communities Secretary's approval for the planned homes near the Shakespearian house in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Shakespeare's Treasures exhibited to public for first time

Portrait of Shakespeare, believed to be have painted from life Credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

A new exhibition has opened at Shakespeare's Birthplace.

It features unique and priceless treasures that are now on public display for the first time.

The exhibition, which is called: 'Shakespeare's Treasures', includes the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust copy of the Cobbe portrait. That is the only portrait of Shakespeare that is believed to be have been painted from life.

Map of Shakespeare's county in Warwickshire in 1576 Credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Other rare items on display for the first time include a map of 'Shakespeare's county' in Warwickshire and the only surviving letter written to the man himself.

Rare Shakespeare portrait to go on display today

Credit: ITV News Central

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will today open a new exhibition featuring unique and priceless treasures from its collection – many of them on public display for the first time.

The only portrait of Shakespeare thought to have been painted from life will be the main feature. It was bought by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 2010.

Other rare items on display for the first time include the only surviving letter written to Shakespeare and a map of 'Shakespeare's county' of Warwickshire in 1576.

Proposals submitted to The Queen for 'Shakespeare Day', full report

Campaigners in Stratford-upon-Avon have submitted proposals to The Queen to create a 'Shakespeare Day'.

The annual celebration would be similar to Burns Night in Scotland.

23rd April is St George's Day, but campaigners also want this day to be Shakespeare's Day, as this was the birthday of William Shakespeare.

Andy Bevan has the story.

National Shakespeare Day gains royal momentum

William Shakespeare Credit: PA

Shakespeare enthusiasts have written to the Queen in hope of support for a national day of celebration in the playwright's name.

A team at the Tudor Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon is calling for a Shakespeare Supper Night to rival Scotland's Burns Night. It would be held on April 23rd – the date of his birth and death.

The team received a response from the Queen, telling them that she would forward the proposal to Maria Miller – the Culture Secretary.

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