A 16th-century half-timbered house, where it is believed that William Shakespeare was born and spent his childhood years. English playwright, poet, and actor was baptized on 26 April 1564. Widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.

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.

John died in 1601 and as the eldest surviving child, William inherited the house. He leased part of the property and it became an inn. 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.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, as viewed from the pedestrian Henley Street. It is now a small museum open to the public and a popular visitor attraction, owned and managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust / Image source

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.

The house-museum recreates a picture of family life at the time of Shakespeare complete with period domestic furnishings, a glass window inscribed with the signatures of visitors to the house over the centuries, and John Shakespeare’s glove making workshop. The walled garden at the back of the house has been specially planted with flowers and herbs that would have been known in Shakespeare’s time.

 

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