Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a gorgeous 16th century Tudor house

Marija Georgievska
 
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There is a remarkable Tudor half-timbered mansion located in Warwickshire that is believed to have been the birthplace of the most famous playwright of the English language, William Shakespeare. Situated on Henley Street, this was the place where Shakespeare spent his childhood and also lived for five years as an adult after his marriage to Anne Hathaway. Although it is not certain, many historians believe it because the house stayed in the family’s ownership for almost two centuries after his death.

It is said that in the 16th century this was the largest house in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare’s parents were wealthy enough to own it. He had many brothers and sisters, but he was his father’s favorite because of his talents. John Shakespeare became the Mayor of Stratford and, as a result of the family’s high status, William had the chance to be educated in the local grammar school.

He inherited the property after his eldest brother’s death and, during his ownership, an inn was opened called the Maidenhead that ran until the 1850s. After William’s death, the house was passed to his eldest daughter Susanna, and the last owner of the Shakespeare lineage was her only child, Elizabeth. In the late 18th century, it was managed by the Hart Family and since the 1850s, the mansion has been in the care of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street. Author: Diliff. CC BY-SA 3.0

The trust restored the property to the state it was in when his parents lived there and later added a modern center in which visitors can see what his early life would have been like. There are many exhibits inside regarding Shakespeare’s childhood and his work. The scale model of London’s Globe Theater is one of the most interesting and was made in the playwright’s honor.

Today, the house is maintained by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Author: Michelle Walz Eriksson. CC BY 2.0

Inside the house, visitors can see where the family dined, slept, and there is even a little cradle placed in one of the bedrooms that may have belonged to Shakespeare. Almost every room has candles, which was typical of the 16th century, and some of the walls are covered with decorative wallpapers. Before becoming mayor, his father was a glove maker and the workshop containing his glove-making equipment is one of the most visited rooms in the house.

The dining room. Author: David Berkowitz. CC BY 2.0

Outside the house, there is a stunning garden with a lavender maze and orchards that are thought to have been made during the five years Shakespeare lived there with his wife. Today, events including poetry readings are held here, and there are gift and bookshops where visiting guests can buy souvenirs or some of Shakespeare’s most famous works.

The back of the house with its magnificent gardens. Author: Nigel Swales. CC BY-SA 2.0

Close to the garden, a cottage was built which belonged only to his wife and is known as the Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Connected with her is another cottage from the early 17th century which is today the Hathaway Tea Rooms, another popular place for people coming to enjoy the beauty of Shakespeare’s hometown. A five house pass ticket can be bought which allows tourists to explore all the houses that belonged to the family. The tour includes the house on Henley Street, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and the gardens, the Hall’s Croft mansion where his daughter Susanna lived with her husband, and the farm of his mother known as Mary Arden’s Farm.

The cradle which perhaps belonged to William. Author: David Berkowitz. CC BY 2.0

The month of October is chock-full of exciting historical events. The ghost walk is one of the most interesting where locals dress in 16th century clothes and walk with a guide through Stratford’s streets where they hear stories about witches, murderers, and ghosts told around the area. There is an exhibition about the 1847 auction of Shakespeare’s house, which took place because the government refused to buy the property.

John Shakespeare’s workshop. Author: David Berkowitz. CC BY 2.0

Performers from all over England came to Stratford and protested by making shows on the streets in order to collect money to save it. Today, there is a free theatrical event where visitors can hear how many notable people, including Charles Dickens, helped to save the house. Shakespeare’s birthplace is a fascinating place to visit and provides an informative and intimate glimpse into the life of one of the greatest writers to have ever lived.