No-one can know what William Shakespeare would say if he were to revisit his birthplace today, but we can safely assume he wouldn’t say: “The old place hasn’t changed a bit”
Words: Vicky Sartain
Yes, the much-restored medieval timber-framed building still stands but there is a huge 60s-built concrete-framed visitor centre next door and plenty of turning space at the back of the house for the coaches full of visitors who arrive every day. But then this has been one of Britain’s most important heritage sites for 300 years. And the fact remains that Shakespeare grew up here and played here. He ate meals in the hall and slept and dreamed in these rooms. Shakespeare also spent the first five years of married life in this house with his new wife, Anne Hathaway.
For Shakespeare enthusiasts worldwide, the house is a shrine and the rarely photographed Shakespeare Centre to the left holds the Shakespeare archive and library. There is also a multi-media exhibition that takes you on a journey from the bard’s early life in Stratford-upon-Avon to his time in London. Among many other treasures and artefacts held here, you can see Shakespeare’s first folio and his will. You can also find out what other famous writers, including Dickens, Keats and Hardy, thought when they visited the house. While in the area, why not call into Anne Hathaway’s Cottage or Mary Arden’s Farm, where Shakespeare’s mother grew up. Today the farm is home to rare breed animals, and recreated sights, sounds and smells of life during the Tudor age – you can try your hand at some rural tasks!