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Hairy Pig

Two New Arrivals at Mary Arden's Farm

22nd July 2010

Hairy Pig

Two exceptionally curly haired pigs and a rare hooded vulture have moved into their new home at Mary Arden’s Farm, once home to Shakespeare’s mother.  The four year old Mangalitsas boar pigs have settled in the New Orchard and have been named ‘Shaggy’ and ‘Peeps’ as they look like sheep until you see their faces. The breed is the last remaining relatives of the Lincoln Curly Coat Pig which became extinct in Britain in 1972 and whose forebears may have been found rooting in rubbish heaps in Henley Street. It is certainly not impossible that William Shakespeare could have tripped over one of their ancestors on his way to school one morning! However, all links to the pigs were not lost as in 1900 Lincoln Curly Coat Pigs were exported to Hungary and bred with local Hungarian pigs, now known as Mangalitsas.  

The other addition to the working farm is a Hooded Vulture, known as ‘Q’. This is the first time that visitors will be able to see a Hooded Vulture at Mary Arden’s Farm. Originally from Asia, Q is approximately 6 years old and reaching her mature plumage so her head will become very blonde. The name ‘Hooded’ comes from the translation of the Latin name “Necrosyrtes Monachus” which means “monks pulling corpses”. From the back, a mature Hooded Vulture pulling at a carcass with its blonde head looks just like a monk in a cassock hunched over his dinner! Like many vultures in Asia the Hooded and White back vultures are almost endangered. Numbers in Asia have dropped from 40 million to under 100,000.

Q will be making a special guest appearance at Mary Arden’s Farm on Sunday 25 July from 10am – 5:30pm as part of the farm’s regular falconry demonstrations.  Falconry sessions with the Tudor birds of prey will take place every day throughout the summer holidays.

Mary Arden’s Farm is a working farm with a difference and promises to be a real treat this summer for all the family. Visitors can experience “Tudor Housework” every Monday when they can see how the Tudors kept their houses and clothes sparkling clean. Every Tuesday, on “Churning Tuesday”, visitors can discover what a Tudor dairymaid got up to and help her churn butter and make cheese ready for market. Every Wednesday on “Woolly Wednesday”, experts will teach about the importance of wool in Tudor times whilst visitors can have a go at tozing, carding, spinning and weaving.  Each Thursday the secrets of the spice chest and how the Tudors used spices will be revealed with “Sugar, Spice and all things Tudor” whilst on Fridays experts will demonstrate the art of baking bread from processing the grain to threshing and winnowing. Every Saturday “Quills, Parchment and Tudor Ink” will show visitors what a typical school day was like for the young William Shakespeare and how to make Tudor ink. “Tudor Toilet Trouble” takes place on Sundays and will give visitors an insight into how the Tudors went about their daily life without modern amenities!

Finally, Mary Arden’s Farm will play host to a “Tudor Fair and Market” from Saturday 28 – Monday 30 August. Visitors can join in the hustle and bustle of a typical Tudor hiring fair where people gathered to find work and hire workers for the next 6 months. Country crafts and traditional activities will be available for visitors to enjoy.

Not only is there ample parking, a delightful café and lots to discover both in the house and grounds, but all tickets to the farm are valid for unlimited entry for a whole year! So for a summer holiday season at great value, take advantage of all the activities at Mary Arden’s and simply visit again and again – for FREE. Please note Mary Arden’s Farm will be closed for restoration from 1 November to just before Easter 2011. For details of all activities please visit or call 01789 204016.

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