A north Essex town mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare is to honour the 400th anniversary of the famous playwright’s death with a world record attempt.

East Anglian Daily Times: William ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare (Image: Archant)

Falstaff is described in Henry IV Part One, in act two scene four, as “that roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in his belly”.

The Manningtree Stour Valley Rotary Club marked the distinction as the only town in this part of the region to feature in a Shakespeare play in the year 2000 by erecting a metal ox sculpture, with a lighted globe inside to represent the pudding, on a wall in lower South Street.

Now the club is organising two events to mark the anniversary.

On the evening of the anniversary of his death itself – April 23, also Shakespeare’s birthday – a street gathering will be held from 5pm in the centre of the town across from the ox sculpture in order to make a world record attempt for the most people reciting Henry V’s famous “St Crispin’s Day” speech.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Manningtree Ox sculpture made by Colin Wilkin which now stands in Manningtree town centre.The Manningtree Ox sculpture made by Colin Wilkin which now stands in Manningtree town centre.

On Sunday April 24 a concert of music, speeches and entertainment ending with the speech featuring the Manningtree Ox will be held in Manningtree Methodist Church, with the event beginning at 7pm.

Rob Sharratt, president of the Rotary Club, said: “We are delighted to help organise these two events which will emphasise the town’s links with William Shakespeare.

“The sculpture of the ox was designed and made by a member to mark the millennium, so our club feels a real connection to it.

“We hope as many people as possible will come along and support these events, both of which are free of charge. We need a really good turnout for the world record attempt and hope people will be excited about the chance to be part of it.”

Academics cannot agree whether the ox reference is a mark of quality of the town’s ox, or a slur on its inhabitants.

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