King Richard IV (Part One)

I don’t know if Shakespeare was familiar with Hungerford or anywhere else in West Berkshire, nor if he was interested in maps or the likely fate of England’s traditional counties. But I suppose he might have been…

Act 1, Scene 1
The Earl of Berkshire’s castle in Hungerford

Enter King Richard IV and the Earl of Berkshire

King Richard IV
The sceptered land is set about with grief
Since traitorous Westmoreland hath raised his arms
Against our royal person in the north
And Sussex, from the south, we have but learned,
Has joined him in this venture. Nay, say not
’tis just against myself: for all our land,
Our body politic, our common weal
And all we hold most dear is threatened thus.

Between the upper and the lower thrusts
Of thankless dogs we stand to be enmeshed.

King Richard IV
If metaphors or fine words must there be,
My Lord of Berkshire, pray leave them to me.
But I have something to unseat them yet;
Behold a map I have this day received.
Mark how it shows the contours of our realm
The hills and towns, the roads that link them, so.
Now I at last can plan a full defence
Of our encircled throne.

It is all truly wonderous to the eye;
The ochre dark, the lapus lazuli
And other colours, reds and and golds and browns
The cursive script, the details of the towns;
A fair reflection of our gracious land
This lovely thing was made – by whose fair hand?

King Richard IV
Master Saxton, Christopher, hath wrought it
Humble printed it, and I have bought it.

Bought it from where, my Lord?

King Richard IV
From a merchant in your town of Hungerford
Who deals in objects which, though striking new to me,
Have yet the flavour of antiquity.

There are many such, and will be more.
But hark – there’s someone knocking at the door.

King Richard IV
Well, go and let them in, then.


• The rest of this story is now available in a paperback book (as are 25 others) – Unaccustomed as I Am (RRP £9.95).

It is stocked by the Hungerford Bookshop and you can place your order here.

Copies are also available at the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough, the Mad Hatter Bookshop in Wantage and through an increasing number of other retailers.

You can order it from any bookshop: they will need to know that the ISBN is 978-1-8382580-0-9 and that it can be ordered from Gardners or Central Books.


Brian Quinn
• For further articles, please click here
• For rants and musings set to music, please click here


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