Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 14:25 UK

Bard's 'cursed' tomb is revamped

Shakespeare's grave
Renovators say the curse "will be avoided"

William Shakespeare's tombstone is set for a makeover - despite bearing a curse against those who move it.

The grave is being restored as part of extensive repairs at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-on-Avon, Warks.

The stone, which renovators say will not be moved, warns: "Blessed be the man that spares these stones/ And cursed be he who moves my bones."

Shakespeare, who was baptised and buried at the church, is thought to have penned the warning epitaph.

The Bard's words have warned off the curious for almost four centuries as well as sending a plea to modern developers.

He was baptised at Holy Trinity in April 1564 and buried there 52 years later.

His grave slab in the chancel and a memorial to him are visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Ian Stainburn, of Stainburn Taylor architects and historic buildings consultants, who is carrying out the work, said the bones would not be disturbed.

"We're avoiding the curse," he said.

Surfaces 'eroding'

He said the firm from Ledbury, Herefordshire, was only working to repair and conserve the stones.

"Over the years, the 400 years, they've started to laminate, the surfaces are coming off, and with people walking over them, clergy during the communion services and so on, the surfaces are getting eroded."

It is part of the third phase of work at the church, which has so far seen more than 800,000 of repairs, including to the tower and areas of eroded masonry.

The fundraising group, the Friends of Shakespeare's Church, say they still need to raise 4m to renovate the historic church.

The Rev Martin Gorick, the vicar of the church, which dates back to 1210, said he was also confident the restoration work would not incur the wrath of Shakespeare.

He said: "The gravestone is crumbling to some extent and we want to consolidate that, and do some improvements around the grave so it lasts longer.

"We are actually conserving the gravestone, so it should be a blessing rather than a curse."

Bard's 444th birthday celebrated
26 Apr 08 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Work begins at Shakespeare church
30 Apr 06 |  Coventry/Warwickshire

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