ONE of Hampshire's best-known villages is celebrating its links with William Shakespeare.

Beaulieu is staging a summer of special events explaining the role it played in the life of the world's most famous playwright, who died 400 years ago.

Many of the celebrations are taking place in and around the 13th century Palace House, ancestral home of the Montagu family since 1538.

One of their ancestors, Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton, was a close friend of the Bard, who dedicated two of his poems to the Earl.

A Beaulieu spokesman said: "It's not inconceivable that one or more of Shakespeare's plays may have been performed for the first time at Beaulieu. The Earl’s hunting lodge was what later became Palace House."

Shakespearean-style playlets are being performed by a group called Living History Tudor, with one of the actors playing the Earl.

Other events include falconry demonstrations and archery displays.

The atmospheric ruins of Beaulieu Abbey will host an open-air production of the Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing on July 13 and 14.

It will be performed by the Castle Theatre Company, which has been staging Shakespeare plays in castles and manor houses across the country for almost 40 years.

Tickets can be bought by calling 01590 612888 or visiting