Stratford-upon-Avon is steeped in the history and legacy of Shakespeare and at the centre of it all is Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, a collection of sites throughout the the town and in 5 main locations.
Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace to walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and explore the house where he was born and grew up. Hear tales of Shakespeare’s family life, enjoy live theatre on demand and get up close to rare artefacts from the Trust’s world class collections as you discover how the extraordinary William Shakespeare continues to shape our lives today.
William Shakespeare was born in this house and grew up here with his parents and siblings. He also spent the first five years of his marriage living here with his wife Anne Hathaway. John and Mary Shakespeare were wealthy enough to own the largest house on Henley Street.
John Shakespeare lived and worked in this house for fifty years. When he married Mary Arden she came to live with him and they had a total of eight children, William was the third to be born. In 1568 John became the Mayor of Stratford, which was the highest elective office in the town. On Sunday, dressed in his fine red robes, he would have been escorted to Holy Trinity church to attend mass. It was because of his father’s status as Mayor that William was privileged enough to have attended the local grammar school to begin his education.
John Shakespeare died in 1601 and as the eldest surviving child, William inherited the house. He leased part of the property and it became an inn called the Maidenhead (and later the Swan and Maidenhead). The inn remained until 1847. When Shakespeare died he left the house to his eldest daughter Susanna, and when she died she left it to her only child, Elizabeth.
Although she married twice Elizabeth had no children, so when she died the house fell to a descendant of Joan Hart, one of Shakespeare’s sisters. The house was owned by the Hart family until the late 18th century, until it went up for sale and was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1847. We have cared for it ever since.
Explore the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. Wander into the tranquil walled garden and discover the fragrant medicinal herbs, as Dr Hall would have used in his remedies.
The main part of this fine timbered property was built in 1613. For most of its history, it has been the home of prosperous, often professional people and in the mid-19thcentury it served as a small school. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust purchased Hall’s Croft in 1949 and, after substantial repairs and alterations, opened it to the public in 1951.
John Hall was a physician of some renown and his case notes, published after his death in 1657, were a popular textbook for other doctors for many years. Dr Hall was a compassionate and diligent physician, treating both rich and poor, Catholic and Protestant patients alike. While some physicians practised astronomy or blood-letting, John Hall’s preference was for treatments made from plants, herbs, animal extracts, gemstones and rocks.
Shakespeare’s New Place is now open to visitors. Walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and meet the man behind the works in a fascinating new exhibition. Discover beautiful gardens and specially-commissioned artworks.
Shakespeare’s New Place was his family home from 1597 until he died in the house in 1616. The house was demolished in 1759, a registered garden has been designed to commemorate the importance of the site and allow visitors to make their own personal connection with Shakespeare.
When Shakespeare bought New Place he was an established playwright and it is believed that he wrote his later plays there, including The Tempest.
Follow in Shakespeare’s footsteps through a new entrance on the site of the original gatehouse and enjoy a contemporary landscape that reveals the footprint of the Shakespeare family home. The re-imagined site gives an impression of the scale of New Place and relationship to the surrounding buildings; such as the neighbouring King Edward VI School and Guild Chapel that were once attended by a young Shakespeare.
Commissioned artworks and displays throughout the site evoke a sense of family life and hint at Shakespeare’s major works that were written during the 19 years he owned New Place.
The sunken Knot Garden has been restored in keeping with the original design by Ernest Law. Elements of the Great Garden, the largest surviving part of Shakespeare’s estate, will be conserved and further developed over time.
Visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the beautiful 500 year old cottage where Shakespeare courted his bride-to-be. See original furniture including the Hathaway bed and uncover five centuries of stories in this picturesque cottage and 13 generations of the family who lived there.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage was originally a farmhouse. It was built in 1463 of cruck construction, when the building would have comprised just two rooms, the kitchen and hall connected by the cross passageway between. We believe the first Hathaway to live in the house was Anne’s grandfather John Hathaway, who was a tenant farmer. Anne, later Shakespeare’s wife was born here in 1556.
When the site was a farm the house was known as ‘Hewlands’ and the Hathaway family were very successful sheep farmers. The garden would have been a farmyard with some livestock and likely a herb garden.
After the death of Anne’s father in 1581, Anne’s brother Bartholomew inherited the tenancy of the 90-acre farm and later bought it freehold. He went on to make various improvements to Anne Hathaway’s house and the first floor is a conversion completed by Bartholomew before the construction of the two-story section in around 1623.
By the late 18th Century the family’s fortunes were on the wane, some land was sold and Hewland’s ceased to be a farm.
The last Hathaway to own the cottage was Mary Baker, who sold the property to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892. Her son William Baker still occupied part of the cottage and was allowed to live there rent free for the rest of his life, assisting with custodian duties until his death in 1911.
Experience the sights, sounds and smells of a working Tudor farm on a fantastic family day out at Mary Arden’s Farm. Meet the Tudors who run the farm just as Shakespeare’s mother would have done, watch craft and falconry demonstrations and explore the farmyard, playground and historic buildings.
Built by Mary’s father, Robert Arden around 1514, Mary Arden’s House has been significantly altered over time. Today, visitors to Mary Arden’s Farm can peek inside the chimney and the walls, discover how the house was built and imagine what life must have been like for Mary when she lived here with her seven sisters.
Neighbouring Palmer’s Farmhouse retains much of its original 16th Century structure. Adam Palmer would have employed several day labourers to undertake the daily work on the land and the care of the livestock, and female servants to help his wife with domestic and farmyard tasks. By 1584 Palmer had improved his house, demolishing the old hall and parlour and building a new hall, cross-passage and kitchen, to create the building we see today.