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Crown Inn

Cornmarket Street, Oxford, City Centre

The Crown is famous for having given bed and board to William Shakespeare. The itinerant playwright-poet was in the custom of staying here when he was travelling between Stratford-upon-Avon and London. Shakespeare reported a favourable relationship with the proprietor. However, he had an even more favourable one with the proprietor’s wife, Jane Davenant. She is believed to be the ‘Dark Lady’ of his sonnets and mother of their son, William. Court officials, lawyers and judges were staying at this inn for an assizes court at Oxford in 1577. This became , locals knew, afterward as the ‘Black Assizes’ because of an all pervading fever. The foul air that arose from the bowels of the earth overcame judges, jury, witnesses and defendants and many died. The Crown exhibits ghostly manifestations. these include several shadowy grey figures, said to be from that 16th century tragedy. At that time, the good folk of Oxford blamed witchcraft for the number of deaths. It was a plague of typhus. When it struck, at least 300 people in Oxford alone are reported to have died from it. locals knew, as ‘Gaol Fever’ it also affected Newgate Prison, London.
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