Autohaus Journey Back In Time
2016 marked the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, with many events and performances taking place around the UK in celebration of the life of England’s greatest writer. The route from his home in Stratford-upon-Avon to the Globe Theatre in London became increasingly busy with poets, scholars and fans of Shakespeare’s work making the pilgrimage along the roads and pathways that are likely to have been followed by the playwright himself.
Two such people who made the pilgrimage in 2016 are father and son, David and Ronan Hatfull, who decided to travel the route in an Autohaus Ashton Campervan, documenting their journey along the way through a combination of photography and poetry. David is a freelance professional photographer and Ronan is a Shakespearean Doctoral Researcher at The University of Warwick, so they were perfectly qualified for the task.
The Shakespeare Walk
This 146 mile walk follows a route that Shakespeare may have taken when travelling between Stratford-upon-Avon and London, where he spent many of his productive years. Much of the landscape has changed over the years, of course, but the journey follows closely along the route he might have walked, utilising footpaths, bridleways, canal paths and minor roads.
The path passes through the Chilterns, Oxford, Blenheim Palace, the Cotswolds, the valley of the River Stour and the Thames Valley, making for a beautiful and varied walk, waymarked with a logo of Shakespeare’s head. There are lovely waterside stretches along the Oxford Canal and the River Thames into London.
Capturing The Journey
The photographic process was not invented until 1839. However, the camera obscura, used by artists to project an image onto a wall or glass screen, has been in existence for much longer and it is likely that it would have been known to Shakespeare. David, therefore, chose to capture his images using a view camera with traditional panchromatic film to replicate a technique that could have been used in a camera obscura. The results include scenes of both urban and rural landscapes, as well as portraits of people whom they met along the way.
Poetry Inspired By The Journey
Ronan’s impetus for the poetry that he produced during the 146 mile walk was based on three main areas. Firstly, as a Shakespeare scholar, he looked at the landscape around him as they travelled from town to country, before ending up in London. He thought about Shakespeare himself making that journey and considered in which ways the playwright’s experiences on his journeys might relate to the characters and settings of his plays. Secondly, Ronan wrote as a response to David’s images, often finding inspiration for the structure of a poem in the composition of an image. Thirdly, some of his writing reflected the pain as well as the elation that talking up to 19 miles a day in hot weather must cause – we are talking major blisters!
Walk out into the country
Where all signals run low
Holding your heart aloft
Encased in plastic
Searching for the aforementioned bar
The only ones here that you’ll find
Serve warm ale and divide fields
And so must yield to your inner country boy
Sacrificing all metropolitan instinct
To tun for the hills
And curl into your digital insomnia
Where those lovers stumbled
Into the forest on a midsummer’s night
They found a truth, concealed from sight
Beneath the city lights and the trappings
Of the court.
My feet stick deep
From the tiptoes to the toe-top
A journey to go
My master calls me
I must not say no
Debunk the myth
Of the origin story
Glory glory Hallelujah
The Bard on high
And he was sometimes
Wending his way
Without rhyme or reason
That would someday
Become county lines
My feet are weary
My pustules pulsate
Did he not veer
Between hope and hate
Sometimes a grin
Sometimes a sneer
But always the destination
Forward to the unmentioned
There are three
By invisible hands
Of time and air
A prophecy foretold
To tease them together
The fairies hush
To resemble gnarled knuckles
Or spindly fingers
Scuttling towards the sky
Enwreathed in foliage
To escape those anchored roots
And cry havoc to the rocky wood.
After owning a static caravan for many years, David decided to change to a VW Campervan after chatting to a French couple, who extolled the virtues of the VW. He hired a VW camper first to see if he liked it and then set about investigating the many conversion companies around the UK. After extensive research and talking to friends who already owned an Autohaus camper, he decided the Autohaus Ashton was the vehicle for him.
The quality of the Autohaus campervans is the best on the market. They are a large enough company to provide a well-tested product, but a small enough company to care.
David wanted a vehicle that he could use for both business and pleasure, providing ample space in the back for camera equipment, as well as a comfortable living area when undertaking commissions away from home. Since the vehicle would be used as his main form of transport, it needed to fit easily into a conventional parking space.
Talking to Tony and Neil, I felt that they understood that buying a campervan was a big decision for us and they fully appreciated the need to get it right, which they certainly did.
David and Ronan completed their journey over a period of 11 days, taking photos and writing poetry as they travelled, inspired by their surroundings and the people they met. The images are available for sale from David’s website and all proceeds are going to the Lizz Ketterer Trust.
From all the team at Autohaus, we’d like to say thank you to David and Ronan for submitting their featured story to us. We wish you all the best with your future campervan adventures.
Article submitted by David Hatfull and written by Jamie Wonnacott
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William Shakespear Image: By It may be by a painter called John Taylor who was an important member of the Painter-Stainers’ Company. (Official gallery link) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons