21 Nov 2017
Hugely successful ‘Afternoon of Fun at The Old Rectory Museum’
On Saturday 21 October two Loughborough academics Sara Read and Lyndsey Bakewell, from the School of the Arts, English and Drama, teamed up with the LSU Shakespeare Society and the volunteers at the Old Rectory Museum, to offer a hugely successful afternoon of joke telling and fun with a historical twist.
Sara and Lyndsey have been researching humour and laughter in the seventeenth century for a forthcoming book chapter in an edited collection, Humour in the Arts: New Perspectives (Routledge, 2018). A whole new book on the topic is in the pipeline.
As part of their work, they were supported by the Research Office with funding for a summer bursary to have a student work with them for ten weeks. Corinne, LSU Shakespeare Society chair, stepped up to this challenge and enjoyed a summer of reading, collating and analysing jokes published in collections 400 years ago.
Inspired by what they had read, the team decided it would be fun to road test some of these ‘joques’ with a modern audience.
The Old Rectory Museum was the perfect setting. The rectory is set in the medieval centre of Loughborough, and the building represents 800 years of the town’s heritage; it is a rare survival of a stone built 13th century manor house, and is also one of the oldest rectories in the country.
The museum has a collection of historical games such as iron spinning hoops and Nine Men’s Morris, a game so old it was even mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
One of the most popular jokes on the day was a rather controversial one which has a local connection the Nottinghamshire village of Gotham:
"A Conceited pragmatical Londoner travelling to Goatam, met a poor fellow coming from thence, thinking to shew his wit said well met wiseman of Goatam, how far to the place of thy Nativity? I cannot deny (said the poor fellow) but that my Country is a shame to me, but you proud Londoners are a shame to your Country."
The Old Rectory now houses a museum run by the Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society and welcomes visitors each Saturday 11am to 3pm from April to October.
LSU Shakespeare Society’s next production is William Shakespeare’s The Tempest on next month.