Mary Arden’s Farm, situated near Stratford-upon-Avon, is the family home of Shakespeare’s mother cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and operated as a working organic Tudor farm where visitors can explore the farmyard and historic buildings, watch falconry demonstrations, take part in traditional rural crafts and enjoy the children's playground. It is also home to two of our re-homed donkeys called Ben and Bill.
Anecdotal evidence records that donkeys were used on the farm in Mary Arden's day; horses were still the preserve of the rich and donkeys were commonly used by the poorer yeoman farmers.
Ben and Bill take part in full costume re-enactments to show visitors how these animals would have been used during the 16th Century. Bill is currently doing pannier work, showing how donkeys carried loads around the farm and to market, but during this closed winter season they will both be trained to take part in cart and yoke work.
Bill is further on in his training than Ben and thoroughly enjoys the attention and admiration of the public; as you can see in the pictures, it looks very authentic.
This is a great example of how our Donkey Guardian homes can enrich and stimulate the lives of their donkeys; with correct care, well-fitting tack and a nice cuddle (and perhaps a treat at the end of the day) they are very willing and happy to do light work... just like these two happy boys.