GARRICK'S TEMPLE TO SHAKESPEARE
Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare is a small garden folly erected in 1756 on the north bank of the River Thames at Hampton.
A Grade I listed building, it was built by the actor David Garrick to honour the playwright William Shakespeare, whose plays Garrick performed to great acclaim throughout his career. During his lifetime Garrick used it to house his extensive collection of Shakespearean relics and for entertaining his family and guests.
The Temple passed through a succession of owners until coming into public ownership in the 20th Century, but fell into serious disrepair by the end of the Century. After a campaign supported by distinguished actors and donations from the National Lottery's "good causes" fund, it was restored in the late 1990s and re-opened to the public as a museum and memorial to the life and career of Garrick.
Garrick built the temple on land adjoining a villa that he had bought in October 1754 to serve as a country retreat. The villa's riverside garden, a plot now known as Garrick's Lawn, was separated from the main property by the road from Kingston upon Thames to Staines. Garrick commissioned the building of an elaborate grotto-tunnel under the road, illuminated by 500 lanterns, to facilitate private access to the lawn from the house.
At some point in 1755 he decided to build a summer-house by the riverside which he intended to dedicate to his muse Shakespeare as a "temple" to the playwright.
It is reputedly the world's only shrine to Shakespeare.
The Temple is open to the public on Sunday afternoon (14.00hrs - 17.00hrs) from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.
Admission to the Garrick Exhibition and most events is free.
The Temple is available for private events.