The Naked Marshmallow Company

If you are looking for a lovely Winter treat then check out this amazing idea!

I love all the American programmes which show everyone sitting round the camp fire toasting marshmallows and making S’mores, but unfortunately, living in the UK with such unpredictable weather all year round, its a risk trying to partake in marshmallow toasting even in the Summer!

Anyway, now you can toast marshmallows all year round with this amazing Marshmallow Toasting Kit from The Naked Marshmallow Company!

The kit costs £19 and includes any two packs of their gourmet marshmallows, with each pack containing eight marshmallows.

You can choose from five different flavours – Vanilla Bean, Candy Floss, Strawberry Cream, Chocolate Orange and Salted Caramel (if you want to order additional flavours you can add more boxes at £4.25 each). They have even got a Christmas range of flavours out at the moment too, such as Gingerbread and Candy Cane!

The marshmallows are made in the UK and are made from fair-trade sugar and have no artificial colours or flavours in them.

We tried four out of the five regular flavours (no-one likes chocolate orange in our family unfortunately!) and all of them were AMAZING! I have honestly never tasted more delicious marshmallows, even those I’ve bought from food festivals and markets!

Each kit comes with eight bamboo sticks and a non-toxic, odourless, smokeless gel burner which will burn constantly for two hours. If you don’t burn it all at once you can simply pop the lid back on to extinguish the flame and then use again whenever you fancy!

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The kit also comes in a gift box with a little printed guide on “how to toast the perfect marshmallow”, so is ideal to give as a present – if you are giving as gifts you can pay an additional £2 to have the burner label personalised as well!

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My favourite flavour was the candy floss one (closely followed by the salted caramel!) but the vanilla bean and strawberry cream were favoured by other guests so the flavours obviously cater for all different tastes too!

Even better, when I placed my order, standard delivery was free! I’ve gone to checkout on several online bakeries and food websites to find that the delivery costs are extortionate, so this was a real added bonus!

The family and I really enjoyed using the kit and I would definitely buy it again, and buy it for family and friends as presents – it’s certainly something a little bit different!

Just don’t forget to put your burner on a heat-proof surface! The last thing you want is to leave burn marks on your furniture!

If you want to take the toasting marshmallows kit one stage further, you can also order their marshmallow S’more’s kit! The kit contains eight marshmallows, eight Graham Crackers, three Hershey chocolate bars and of course your gel burner, eight bamboo sticks and a guide on how to make the perfect S’more!

I’ll definitely have to try this kit next time I put an order in!

Addicted to Lush Take Four!

Well seeing as I got a bit excited about all the Lush Halloween and Christmas products and spent an absolute fortune, I’ve gone back to using the products I already had in my stash and I’m on a Lush purchase ban for the foreseeable future! It will be a challenge!

Anyway, heres my reviews on some of the lovely products I’ve used lately –

Cyanide Pill Bath Bomb

Seeing as cyanide is known for it’s bitter almond smell, I assumed correctly that almonds would be an ingredient in this very unusually named and even more unusually looking bath bomb!

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Pill-shaped and a bit smaller than the usual bath bomb, but don’t let this fool you, it is still a strong smelling bomb, with it’s key ingredients being lemon, cedarwood, rosewood and almond oil. The cedarwood is actually the dominant smell in this bath bomb which provides a lovely woody aroma.

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Once it is put in the water, Cyanide Pill begins dissolving really fast and quickly turns the bath water into a toxic coloured lime green/yellow.

Inside the bath bomb theres also a large amount of glitter which clumps together to form the “mercury” feature of the bath bomb, which floats across the surface of the water like a silver oil slick! Cyanide Pill also contains popping candy to add even more to your bathing experience! I sat in the bath for a while and wondered what the strange crackling sound was before I realised!

Although it feels almost uncomfortable bathing in water which is such a toxic colour, I found this bath bomb to be moisturising on the skin, plus the lovely aroma was vey relaxing after a particularly hard session at the gym!

When I tried Cyanide pill for the first time I wasn’t overly impressed and thought to myself that I wouldn’t buy anymore, however I had bought two with my original order and enjoyed it far more the second time round – it is definitely worth trying at least once, for the unusual bathing experience at least!

Metamorphosis Bath Bomb

This is a relatively new bath bomb – a steel grey coloured bomb with jagged indentations across it, it very much reminds me of one of the Dragon’s egg’s from Game of Thrones! I’m half expecting it to hatch sometime soon!

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This is a fast fizzing bath bomb, which streams out metallic grey colours until only a few seconds later, waves of pink, yellow and green begin to appear. These colours make beautiful rainbow patterns across the water – the only downside? You are left with a pretty murky looking shade of water!

Amazing ingredients in this one – black pepper, cinnamon and myrrh which produce a lovely warming, smoky smell. Although you aren’t left with a very pretty shade of bath water, I found the water was incredibly moisturising.

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I think I’ve just found myself another favourite to add to the list! The only thing which would put me off buying this bath bomb again is that it left a metallic stain around the bath tub which wasn’t very easy to shift – out came the Cillit Bang!

Comforter Bubble Bar

This is probably my favourite bubble bar! Again you should find this bubble bar provides you with up to four uses, so don’t feel that you need to use it all at once!

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Cut a bit off the bar and crumble it under running water or do as other lushies do and cut it up finely with a knife and store it in an airtight tub ready for use – it’s easier to see how much you are using this way I find.

The Comforter bubble bar turns the water a lovely pink colour and the scent is one of blackberries, raspberries and cherries. It is one of the nicest scents in the whole of the Lush range! The bar also contains bergamot oil, cypress oil and cassis absolute, so it works really well at making your skin lovely and soft – an absolute must try!

Rose Jam Bubbleroon

Named due to its “macaroon” style design, this is another one which is an absolute must try!

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This bubble bar contains lemon and rose but also has an unusual sweet smelling jammy style rose aroma. It also contains geranium oil, coconut oil and shea butter to make the skin soft and moisturised.

I used around half of my bubbleroon in one go  and found it will easily cover two baths. Again, crumble your bubble bar under running water, or (something new I learned from fellow lushies on Instagram) after cutting the bubble bar up, put however much you want to use in a sieve and then hold the sieve under the running tap to get lots of lovely fluffy bubbles!

Rose Bath Bomb

I have to admit, rose is one of my least favourite smells but this bath bomb has had rave reviews so I thought I would give it a try.

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It has a very potent flower smell, with a sweet rose fragrance coupled with geranium and a slight lemon aroma. In fact I would say it is one of the strongest smelling bath bombs I have come across.

This is a fast fizzer and immediately creates waves of bright pink foam before the turquoise centre begins to seep through, until you end up with pinky orange coloured water to bathe in.

When the bomb is almost dissolved the centre opens up and spills out a handful of yellow rose petals, which I thought was a really lovely touch. This bomb contains lots of oils which make it a very moisturising bath experience.

Some other Lushie’s have said that this bath bomb left an oil rim around the bath tub but I didn’t find this at all – the two worst bath bombs for this so far are Lava Lamp and Metamorphosis in my opinion!

Not a favourite of mine but an absolute must if you are a fan of the rose scent, I sent the pictures straight to my sister because I know she will love this bath bomb! She’s a real flower girl!

Sacred Lotus Bath Bomb

I really love the design of this one! It is designed to look just as the name suggests – like a beautiful lotus flower!

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Neroli and jasmine are the main ingredients so this bomb is sweet and slightly florally smelling. This one is quite a fast fizzer, releasing white and purple foam on the surface of the water. Then, after a few minutes, the purple petals break away and make beautiful purple swirled patterns in the white foam.

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The scent is very delicate, and not very strong when it is in the bath, however I found that the scent was still noticeable on my skin, albeit very subtly. A very relaxing and calming bath bomb which left my skin feeling really moisturised.

This is definitely one I would try again and one I would probably buy as gifts for family and friends as well as it’s a beautiful design.

Cloak of Invisibility Bath oil

The name makes reminds me of Harry Potter and the bath melt itself reminds me of a little glittery pumpkin!

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I really like this bath oil, when it was first released and I got to smell its scent I ended up buying three and passed one on to the little Sister as I’m sure she will love it too! The main scents in this bath oil are Jasmine and Rosewood, and so it has a lovely sweet floral scent.

This melt is small but mighty and full of shea and cocoa butters and essential oils to moisturise and nourish the skin. Others have said it takes a while for the oil to melt, but I do have my baths very hot so it melted away quite quickly, leaving golden glitter floating about just below the surface and the water a light orange colour. I was worried about the bright orange colour leaving stains and marks in the bath after its use but it was absolutely fine and washed away no problems.

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I loved this melt as soon as I smelt it and love it even more now I have used it – I literally didn’t want to get out of the bath! It is really moisturising and really comforting – one for the favourites list definitely, and perfect for those cold winter months when your skin needs a little bit more TLC!

So that’s my latest round of Lush products – in December I’ve got four straight days of reviews of this years Lush Christmas range as part of my Blogmas attempt – the 2017 Christmas range is MASSIVE and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on these amazing products! Watch this space!

Iconic London Illuminators

Hello fellow beauty product lovers! How many of you use highlighters in your makeup routine?

I’d not tried highlighters or illuminators before – I wanted to but I found it all to be a real mine field, and after trying so many different types of liquid foundations over the past few months and still not really being happy with the one I had finally settled on, to be honest I was a bit put off starting my quest to find one!

My sister told me about the Iconic London Illuminators – I’m not too sure where she came across them, my guess is an advert on either Facebook or Instagram.

Anyway, at the time, Cult Beauty had a really good offer where if you spent a certain amount, they would send you a free summer goody bag which contained loads of sample and full sized products which we agreed to split when it arrived, and we each ordered an Illuminator. I ordered the “Original” colour and my sister ordered the “Shine” colour.

I loved the Original colour so much that within a couple of weeks I ordered the other two colours as well!

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Shine

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Glow

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This is a product that all the celebrities are currently raving about – celebrity fans include Jourdan Dunn, Perrie Edwards, Michelle Keegan, Binky Felstead, Abbey Clancy and Chrissy Teigen, and after using it just once it was easy to see why!

The illuminator is so easy to use – it can be added to your foundation, primer or moisturiser, or used on its own for an amazing highlighted glow.

To use on its own, simply add drops of the illuminator to your cheekbones, the tip of your nose, collarbones and cupids bow. Use your fingers to tap the product onto your skin and then gently blend it in.

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Top to bottom – Shine, Original and Glow

I’ve found that you only need a tiny amount/couple of drops for the most dramatic of effects which means the bottle lasts absolutely ages – good news for those who are slightly put off by the £29.99 RRP the product attracts.

As I said before, I ordered my first one from Cult Beauty (it was slightly more expensive here at £34.99) but the subsequent bottles I ordered directly from Iconic London. I get regular emails from Iconic after now I’ve registered my details with them, but they do have very good regular discount offers on these products so keep your eyes peeled! One of the offers included a free Rose Gold Makeup Brush and on another offer you got a free strobing stick worth £24.99 if you spent £25 in the iconic store – absolute bargain!

If you search for Iconic London Illuminators on Facebook they also have a 10% off offer which is regularly available (try discount code FACEBOOK10).

I know it is difficult to take my word for it when I have literally only tried one make of highlighter but I am so pleased that I did – I’m not going to bother trying any others, this product is absolutely perfect.

One thing which is disconcerting is this product is often labelled as “Limited Edition” – I don’t know why and I am hoping this was just from when they originally released it, because I really don’t know what I’m going to do if they discontinue it! I’ve bought a few bottles to stock up on just in case anyway!

Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon

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We booked a trip to Stratford Upon Avon through my Sports and Social at work – the trip was arranged on the weekend of the food festival but my Mum, my sister and I have been wanting to visit all the other sights here for a long time so this trip seemed perfect!

We paid for a full story ticket which gets you entry to the five different places – Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place and Hall’s Croft. Full story tickets are £22.50, or you can book online for a 10% reduction in ticket prices – book your tickets here. We booked our tickets on the day because we had been saving our Tesco Clubcard points to put towards the the entrance fees – and even better, Tesco Boost means you can get £10 worth of vouchers for only £2.50 of your Clubcard points – excellent!

The tickets are good value for money, as they are valid for a year from the day of purchase, so you can revisit all these places as many times as you want. Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place and Hall’s Croft are all within walking distance so we spent the day at these three places. Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage are a short car journey away from the town centre, and the leaflet on Mary’s Arden’s Tudor Farm says you could spend up to a day here so we agreed to visit these last two places on another day!

We had a great day visiting Stratford, here’s what we found out during our Shakespearean adventure –

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

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We visited here first and were amazed at this beautiful old building! When you first enter the house you walk through the Shakespeare Centre where you can see how Shakespeare has been interpreted and enjoyed over the centuries. In here you will find wonderful artwork, memorabilia, a timeline of Shakespeare’s life and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

After the exhibition, you can walk through all the rooms in the house where Shakespeare was born, including his fathers glove-making workshop. The house is a 16th Century half-timbered house. It is believed that Shakespeare was born here in 1564 and spent many of his childhood years here.

The house itself is quite plain but was considered to be a substantial dwelling in those days! William’s father John was a glove maker and the house was divided into two parts to allow him to run his business from the family home.

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The ownership of the house passed on to William upon the death of his father, however William already owned New Place by this point, so the property was rented out and converted into an Inn known as the Maidenhead.

Once the family line had come to an end, the house was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair until around the 18th Century. Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott are among the notable people who have visited the house, and many of the signatures of it’s famous visitors still remain on the windowpanes. In 1846 the house was bought by the Shakespeare Birthday Committee (today known as the Shakespeare Birthplace Place) for £3,000, and restoration work began soon after.

The garden at the back of the house has been specially planted with flowers and herbs that would have been known in Shakespeare’s time.

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Whilst you are out in the garden there are some amazing actors performing the works of Shakespeare. They take requests if you would like them to perform your favourite Shakespeare piece too! My Mum requested a scene from Macbeth and the gentleman performed it beautifully!

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Shakespeare’s New Place

The house actually no longer exists as it was when Shakespeare lived here, which is a real shame. The original house, as it stood at the time, was the largest dwelling in the borough, and the only one with a courtyard. It was built in 1483 by Sir Hugh Clopton and originally had ten fireplaces, five gables, and large grounds. The footprint of Shakespeare’s New Place is marked in bronze within the paving.

William Shakespeare bought the house in 1597 for £60 (a LOT of money back then!) During his ownership of New Place he wrote 26 of his 38 plays and had his sonnets and other poetry published.

Shakespeare died in 1616 and the house passed to his daughter Susanna Hall, and then his granddaughter Elizabeth Hall, who at the time had recently remarried after the death of her husband Thomas Nash, who owned the house next door. After Elizabeth died, the house was returned to the family of the gentleman who had built it, the Cloptons.

In 1702, John Clopton dramatically altered, or practically rebuilt, the original New Place. A further owner of the property, Reverand Francis Gastrell, applied for permission to extend the garden. His application was declined and the tax payable on the property increased (due to its size) so Gastrell unfortunately demolished the house as a result.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acquired the property in 1876 and today the site of New Place is accessible through a museum within Nash’s house, the house next door. The entrance to New Place marks the spot where the main door in the Gatehouse once stood.

Whilst there you will see the Gatehouse where you’ll cross the threshold where Shakespeare’s front door used to be, the Strongbox, the Globe, the Well, the Golden Garden, the King’s Ship, the Armillary Sphere, along with –

Play Pennants and sonnet ribbons

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His Minds Eye

This beautiful sculpture represents Shakespeare’s creativity and the effect his genius works had on the world.

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Shakespeare’s Chair and Desk

All of Shakespeare’s works began at a humble writing desk – here you can take a seat in the great man’s chair.

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The Great Garden and the Mulberry Tree

The Great Garden houses a beautiful sculpture trail featuring sculptures by Greg Wyatt. All of the sculptures are based on Shakespeare’s most famous works.

The Mulberry tree is believed to have grown from a cutting of the tree planted by Shakespeare himself.

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Behind this sculpture you’ll see the Mulberry Tree

The Greenwood Tree

A beautiful tree sculpture, you can pay to have one of the leaves on this tree dedicated to whoever you want – there are only 300 available leaves though and space is running out! Click here for more info! The photos don’t do it justice!

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The Knot Garden

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Keep reading for the full story behind this!

The Exhibition

The house next door to Shakespeare’s New Place was built about 1530 and has now extensively renovated to house the Shakespeare’s New Place exhibition. The exhibition is over two floors and there’s also a viewing deck which is worth visiting for views of the garden.

The Signet Ring

Ok, as promised above, I said there was a story behind this! In 1810, nearly 200 years after Shakespeare’s death, a gold 16th century “WS” initialled ring was discovered by labourers in nearby field next to the burial ground of the Holy Trinity Church. Signet rings were used to imprint a personal seal on a blob of wax. It was very common in those times for even ordinary people to  possess their own seal. The ring itself shows very little wear, suggesting it as relatively new when it was lost by its owner.

It has not been confirmed that the ring belonged to William Shakespeare, however looking at the evidence it would appear to be pretty likely. The Holy Trinity church was William Shakespeare’s local church, he was baptised here and is now also laid to rest here. It has been suggested that Shakespeare lost his ring whilst attending his daughter Judith’s wedding, which took place at the Holy Trinity Church in 1616. Shakespeare died later that year.

The document you see in the bottom right picture above is William Shakespeare’s last will and testament. These documents would usually be “sealed” with wax and then the owner of the signet ring would press the ring into the wax, thereby leaving behind their initials on the document. Shakespeare’s will was amended and the words which originally read “hereunto set my hand and seal” were amended to read “hereunto set my hand” and the document signed by Shakespeare instead, presumably because he couldn’t find his beloved signet ring when the time came to sign!

Is it Shakespeare’s signet ring? It certainly looks likely!

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Hall’s Croft

This historic Jacobean house is where Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna lived with her husband, the wealthy physician Dr. John Hall.

The main part of the property was built in 1613 – it is a really beautiful timbered property and was even used as a school in the mid-19th century.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust purchased the property in 1949 and opened it to the public in 1951.

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John Hall was a great physician and his case notes were published in a text book and used by doctors for many years after his death in 1657.

Dr Hall had a preference for treatments made from plants, herbs, animal extracts, gemstones and rocks, as opposed to other physicians who would practice blood-letting or astronomy.

Upstairs in the property you can find a brilliant exhibition called Method in the Madness which explores medicine in the lifetime of Dr John Hall. Don’t forget to check out the syringe from the 1500’s and the uroscopy station!

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Holy Trinity Church

I couldn’t wait to see this beautiful church – and it did not disappoint!

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Located on the banks of River Avon, the Holy Trinity Church is considered to be one of England’s most-visited Parish Churches and is the site where William Shakespeare was baptized in 1564 and buried in 1616.

A “Church on the banks of the Avon in Stratford” is first mentioned in the charter of 845, signed by Beorhtwulf (Bertulf), King of Mercia. This church would have been a wooden construction and it is likely that the Normans replaced this with a stone building, however no trace of either construction remains. Building on the present limestone building started in 1210 and the building was built in the shape of a cross.

The Church is approached along an avenue of lime trees, said to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles.

The church is accessed through two 15th century doors. On one of the doors is a sanctuary knocker where fugitives would grab the ring to seek 37 days safety before facing trial.

The original nave would have been shorter and lower than at present. Between 1280 and  1330 the tower was built and the nave’s rebuilt to include side aisles.

The Clopton Chapel

Hugh Clopton became the Lord Mayor of London and was a great benefactor to the town. He completely rebuilt the Chapel of the Guild of the Holy Cross and provided the stone bridge over the Avon which carries his name, and the traffic, to this day. He had a magnificent altar-tomb built in the then Lady Chapel but was, in fact, buried in London. After the reformation his descendants claimed the chapel as their own and it now contains the finest renaissance tomb in all England. The Clopton Chapel was recently professionally cleaned, revealing the beauty of the painted decorations.

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The Grave of William Shakespeare

In 2016, Channel 4 broadcast the results of an archaeological investigation of Shakespeare’s grave. The team used ground penetrating radar equipment to try and establish what lies beneath his mysterious looking gravestone. This equipment allows a below ground level scan to take place, without disturbing the burial site.

For years historians and archaeologists have argued over the burial site – questioning the size of the stone which is far too short for adult burial and which doesn’t even have a name engraved on it, only a chilling curse which reads:

“Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear,

To dig the dust enclosed here.

Blessed be the man that spares these stones,

And cursed be he that moves my bones.”

The key findings of the investigation included “an odd disturbance at the head end” which investigators believe shows that someone has disturbed the grave and removed the head of Shakespeare. It is rumoured that his head was stolen by trophy hunters in 1794 – I’m sure I wouldn’t risk stealing anything from that grave with such a curse engraved on it!

The ground penetrating radar also showed that William Shakespeare, his wife Anne Hathaway and other members of the family whose grave stones lie beside his, were not buried in a large family vault deep underground, but in shallow graves beneath the church floor. William Shakespeare’s and Anne Hathaway’s graves are actually less than a metre deep!

The graves of both Shakespeare and his wife were found to be significantly longer than their short stones which makes them the same size as other family stones.

There was no trace of any metal in the graves which suggests they were not buried in coffins (as coffin nails would be apparent) but wrapped in shrouds instead.

Following on from the missing skull, investigators visited another church around 15 miles away where, in a dark sealed crypt, was a mysterious skull which had long been rumoured to be the skull of William Shakespeare. The team were granted access to the vault to scan the skull which revealed the skull to belong to an unknown woman in her 70’s when she died, so the mystery of Shakespeare’s missing skull still remains.

All very interesting and spooky stuff!

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So as you can see we had a great day out in Stratford – we learned so much and are looking forward to visiting the final two places which our tickets grant us access to which is Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm. I hope these places are as fascinating as all of the other places we’ve visited during our Shakespearean adventure!