“ The "Official Website" is that of "The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust" which came into existence after the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace in 1847 in order to preserve it as a national monument. It's job is to promote appr „
Visiting the 5 houses associated with Shakespeare is the main aim for many people when they visit the pretty town of Stratford-on-Avon. Shakespeare’s Birthplace is the most popular and often very crowded, especially with foreign tourists. There is a Shakespeare Exhibition with displays of 16th Century Stratford and theatre in London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I when you first enter the Visitor Centre before reaching the actual house. I found this exhibition rather dark and difficult to view as there were so many people there, but the house itself was interesting and the garden was pretty. This is the only house which is in the centre of Stratford. Nash’s House and New Place in Chapel Street are nearer to the edge of the town. New Place was Shakespeare’s final house, but it was unfortunately destroyed by a later owner who didn’t like Shakespeare. Nash’s Place is next door to the site of New Place and belonged to Thomas Nash, the first husband of Shakespeare’s grand-daughter, Elizabeth. The house is very much like a museum, but the Elizabethan-style knott garden is well worth a visit. Hall’s Croft is classed as one of the finest half-timbered gabled houses in Stratford and belonged to Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. There are a lot of medical instruments on display inside, but I thought the best part was listening to an open air concert given by a large group of Japanese School Children in the walled garden whilst we ate a welcome ice cream from the small shop there. Anne Hathaway’s cottage is a mile from Stratford, in Shottery. His wife lived here until her marriage and the house is full of basic furniture from the period and reminded me of my own grandma’s farm cottage. The uneven floor upstairs has to be seen to be believed. It must have been hard on the feet in winter. Perhaps the most interesting property is that of Ma
ry Arden which is in Wilmcote, 3 miles outside Stratford. This is where Shakespeare’s mother lived before she married his father. It has displays of village crafts and traditions from the 16th to the 20th century. A blacksmith was busy working there when we visited, which was interesting and there were various animals and birds of prey on display. The house itself and Glebe Farm next door have lots of old furniture from the period and the guides are full of interesting information. It would cost nearly £22 for an adult to pay individually to visit all the houses. However we bought a Guide Friday ticket (£8.50 per adult or £7 for Senior citizens and students) to visit all the houses by bus and then bought a Guide Friday Five ticket which meant we could enter all 5 houses for only £10 each(£9 for concessions), which was much better value. Even better, the house tickets are valid for a year (unlike the bus tickets which are only valid for one day), so we were able to spread our visits over two days, which made the visits more enjoyable. Each of the houses has a small gift shop and Mary Arden’s house has a café near the shop. Although I am not a great fan of Shakespeare, I found all the houses interesting in their own way, and just walking in the footsteps of the great bard himself and seeing the sort of tools and household items used by his family was a fascinating experience. Well worth a visit.