Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon to dive into the world of a young William: the boards on which he took his first wobbly steps, the window out of which his father leaned to sell gloves, the glass etched with the names of people who came to visit over the last few hundred years.
What else can you expect when you visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon?
Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6QW
What’s at Shakespeare’s Birthplace?
Make like Charles Dickens, Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott by paying a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. They were among hundreds of literary pilgrims who flocked to the home in Henley Street, etching their name in windows and signing registers to prove they’d been there, during a renewed interest in Shakespeare in the 1800s. Curiosity peaked in 1846, when circus-man PT Barnum attempted to buy the house and move it bit by bit to the United States. Thankfully, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust stepped in and restored the home to its humble origins.
So what can you see when you visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace?
There’s an exhibit as you first enter the birthplace site via the Shakespeare Centre on Henley Street. It contains sculptures, art and many other pieces linked to the playwright, as well as one of the trust’s three First Folios – a mini Mecca for lovers of Shakespeare.
You’ll step into the gardens attached to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a pleasant space filled with plants, trees and flowers, plus treasure hunts for children, more artwork, and skilful costumed actors, who fill the air with the words of the Bard (you can even put in a request to hear your favourites).
Inside the 16th-century, half-timbered home, where John and Mary Shakespeare welcomed eight children (William was the third-born and the eldest son), is a warren of rooms, where the Shakespeares lived, worked, played and slept in somewhat uncomfortable-looking beds.
Throughout the house, tales of the past are told and history brought to life by members of the team, who can tell you about the gloves Shakespeare’s dad would have made and sold, which part of the house became a pub, and where baby William might have been born.
Stay for a while, hear sonnets in the gardens, sink into a deckchair when the sun shines, before exiting through the huge gift shop, which is filled with everything from wind-up Williams and Bard babygrows to the complete works of William Shakespeare.
Don’t miss at Shakespeare’s Birthplace
The birthroom window, which once occupied the frame in the room most likely to be William’s specific birthplace, was, from 1806, etched with the names of visitors. The walls were also autographed, though these have since been painted over. It’s fascinating to think that this vandalism, by today’s standards, was an unacceptable way to mark your visit to the place of birth of the world’s greatest ever playwright.
Location of Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Shakespeare’s Birthplace is in pedestrian-only Henley Street in central Stratford-upon-Avon. William would have made the short stroll (about seven minutes) to his schoolroom, which is now open to the public. New Place, site of the family home he bought after he became successful, is steps away from Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall. Hall’s Croft, the home of his daughter Susanna and her husband, is another five minutes by foot from New Place.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace opening times
Late March to September 2: 9am-5pm
September 3 to November 4: 9am-4.30pm
Shakespeare’s Birthplace price
Adult tickets £15.75, £10.35 for children (under 3s free). If you plan to visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace and at least one of the other Shakespeare Family Homes (Shakespeare’s Birthplace, New Place, Mary Arden’s Farm, Anne Hathway’s Cottage, Hall’s Croft), the Full Story ticket offers excellent value with entry to all five properties for 12 months for £20.25 for adults and £13.05 for children.
Value for money? With the Full Story ticket, yes (see why Stratfordblog thinks it’s a fantastic investment). Even if you’re only on a short visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, be sure to stay for a night or two and visit more than one property to get good value. Book online at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for an extra 10 per cent off.
The Stratfordblog verdict
Shakespeare gave the world some of the greatest stories ever told and here, at his birthplace, you get to travel right back to the beginning of his. There’s something completely alluring and yet totally human about that notion.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace, of all the Shakespeare Family Homes, is the one you can’t miss when you visit Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s a place I return to, as there is always a detail, a patch in the garden, a moment, an unheard story, or even a fun gift in the shop that revives my interest in William Shakespeare, the man who made my Warwickshire hometown what it is today.
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Information correct at date of publication