Shakespeare Birthplace Garden in Stratford upon Avon
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Visiting the Birthplace of Shakespeare in Stratford upon Avon

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I went back to visit the birthplace of Shakespeare after attending the guided Stratford Town Walk. The hometown of Shakespeare is located in Stratford upon Avon in England. Using the voucher I had received on the walk, I got a two-for-one discount to enter this fantastic historic home overseen by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

If you plan to do the Stratford Town Walk and visit his house, I advise you to do the walk first. This way, you get that coupon, making visiting a steal on the Shakespeare Birthplace prices, and you have already gotten some Shakespearean knowledge by visiting other places in Stratford that Shakespeare has been. To enter the birthplace of William Shakespeare, you head just to the left of the actual home and begin the tour by walking through a small exhibit.

Starting the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Tour

One of the first things you see when entering the exhibit is the First Folio (seen below). This piece of history awed me. The First Folio is Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. It is a published collection of William Shakespeare’s plays from 1623. The fact that it’s survived this long and in such good shape is merely incredible.

The First Folio is the first published collection of Shakespeare’s plays, produced seven years after his death. It groups his plays into categories for the first time—comedies, histories, and tragedies. About half of Shakespeare’s plays, including As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Tempest, and others, had never previously appeared in print before this. Without this book, 18 plays might have been lost forever.

Inside the Birthplace of William Shakespeare

When you visit Shakespeare’s house, it is set up as if you were visiting during his time. They have retained how it would have looked when he lived there in the 16th century. The ground floor has a parlor, a central hall, and a service/work area. His father used the service area for his work as a glover. The exhibit they have set up showcases the steps of making gloves in the 1500s. Likely, there was once a separate kitchen and brewhouse in the back of the house as well as an additional workshop area.

Ever wonder how you can ward off those pesky evil spirits? Check out the Witch’s Bottle on the table above! They were used to make charms and spells to eliminate evil spirits. You would fill the bottle with items such as pins, pieces of bone, hair, nail clippings, and urine. Once they were full, they were often buried outside by the doorways of the house. YUCK! I’ll stick with my Celtic necklace. Thank you very much!

Saving the Birthplace of Shakespeare

Did you know that Phineas Taylor Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus once wanted to buy the birthplace of Shakespeare?

“While in Europe I was constantly on the look-out for novelties… I obtained verbally through a friend the refusal of the house in which Shakespeare was born, designing to remove it in sections to my Museum in New York; but the project leaked out, British pride was touched, and several ….. English gentlemen interfered and purchased the premises for a Shakespeare Association…” – Phineas Taylor Barnum

As much as it would be nice to have a bit of Shakespeare over here in the US, keeping it in its original location, the hometown of Shakespeare, is where it belongs. The US does have the most extensive Shakespeare collection, however. It is housed at the Folger Shakespeare Library, located in Washington, DC. Fortunately, the removal of the birthplace of William Shakespeare to New York did not happen.

Instead, in 1847, the birthplace of Shakespeare was purchased for £3,000 by public subscription. Charles Dickens was one of the leaders of the campaign to save the building. He even raised money for the purchase through performances of Shakespeare’s plays.

Famous Visitors to the Hometown of Shakespeare

Once you head upstairs, you’ll see a window panel that used to be on the top floor. It has since been removed because so many visitors have scribbled on it over the years. Some of the scribblers are even famous! Scottish writer Walter Scott, philosopher Thomas Carlyle, and two great Shakespearean actors, Ellen Terry and Henry Irving (his scribble can be seen in the image on the right). Not to worry. I did not add my scribble to this panel. I was respectful!

The Birthplace of Shakespeare

Walk further into the birthplace of William Shakespeare, and you come upon a bedroom and a loft above. Like most of the Stratford upon Avon buildings in the 16th century, the house was built using local materials: oak and stone. There have been alterations and restoration work on the home, but most of the original structure of the house survives.

The next room you enter is the actual room in which Shakespeare was born, which you can see below. I’m not being dramatic here. I got chills while being in the birthplace of Shakespeare! It’s bigger than some of the apartments I’ve had in Los Angeles! It was also the birthplace of his other siblings. He was the eldest of eight children, of which five survived into adulthood – William, Gilbert (1566-1612), Joan (1569-1646), Richard (1574-1613), and Edmund (1580-1612).

William Shakespeare’s Descendants

When William’s Father, John Shakespeare, died in 1601 as the eldest son, he inherited the home. As Shakespeare had other properties and was sometimes in London, he leased part of the property. It then became an inn called the Maidenhead (and later the Swan and Maidenhead). The inn occupied the eastern two-thirds of the main house and continued until 1847.

After Shakespeare’s death, he left the house to his eldest daughter, Susanna. It then passed on to her only child, Elizabeth. The birthplace of Shakespeare remained in the ownership of his direct descendants until 1670 when his granddaughter died. Having no children, it passed onto his great-nephew. Joan Hart, Shakespeare’s great-grandson’s descendants, lived in the other part of the house until 1793.

Leaving My Mark on the Hometown of Shakespeare

Boy, this was a small doorway! I’m 5’8″, and I could barely go through without grazing my head! You can even see it pushing up my hair in the photo. Just before exiting the house, they had a guestbook for visitors to sign. I love writing in guestbooks while I’m traveling. Even if it’s something short, it’s a way to leave your mark at the birthplace of William Shakespeare without scribbling on the window pane!

Performances at the Birthplace of Shakespeare

After touring the house, you exit into Shakespeare’s garden. I’m glad that I was there during the summer, as everything was in bloom. I was also just in time to catch some live theatre! These two lovely actors were performing bits of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. Both of them were wonderful and interacted with the crowd that had formed. I had requested a bit from Lady Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s best characters, in my opinion! There is nothing like theater in England, especially at the home of a legend!

Woman at Birthplace of Shakespeare Garden in Stratford upon Avon

Final Thoughts on Visiting the Birthplace of William Shakespeare

I strongly suggest visiting the Birthplace of William Shakespeare to anyone visiting England. You don’t have to be a history or theater nerd to enjoy the experience. It’s more about seeing where he came from and how far he got in his lifetime. Like Shakespeare himself, many greats come from humble beginnings, so take the time to visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace to get inspired.

Since I was only in Stratford upon Avon for one day, I didn’t do anything other than the events mentioned above. However, if you have more time, make sure to check out the events held by the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust. They also have several workshops, tours by costumed guides, and other special exhibits.

Tips for Visiting the Hometown of Shakespeare

As I mentioned above, if you plan to do both the Stratford Town Walk and visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace, do the guided walk of Stratford upon Avon first. When you take the tour, you get a coupon for local sights, one of which is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. It’s a great way to save you some extra cash while traveling! You’ll also go in prepped with some Shakespearean knowledge by having visited other places in Stratford where Shakespeare has been. You can also visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage, which is just a mile and a half outside the hometown of Shakespeare. With one day, I unfortunately didn’t get there, but I encourage those to visit who can!

ITINERARY INFO FOR THE birthplace of shakespeare

Duration: 1 hour

Note: The prices listed below do not include the Stratford Town Walk coupon discount.

(as of March 2024)

Full Story Ticket: Allows visits to all of Shakespeare’s homes.

  • £26 – Adult
  • £13 – Child
  • £65 – Family (2 adults & 3 children)
  • £20.80 – Concession

Single Property Ticket:

  • £19.50 – Adult
  • £9.75 – Child
  • £48.75 – Family (2 adults & 3 children)
  • £15.60 – Concession
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