Harvard House, a Grade I-listed Elizabethan town house in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon has been opened as a new visitor attraction this month (November 2014).
Previously known as ‘the Ancient House’, Harvard House was built in 1596 by wealthy townsman Thomas Rogers, whose grandson founded Harvard University in the United States. Visitors will be able to learn more about the history of the house, get a real sense of how wealthy Elizabethan townsfolk lived, and discover the American connection.
Stepping inside, visitors will be able to view an array of 16th-century oak furniture that would be typical in a house of such wealth and social standing; including a rare ball-turned armchair, a beautiful late-16th century chest with carved decorations, and an unusual carved corner stool. Also on display is a tapestry panel which depicts the Biblical story of Joseph, thought to have been made in Barcheston in Warwickshire in the late 1500s.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which cares for the five Shakespeare family homes in Stratford-upon-Avon, has opened Harvard House while Nash’s House and New Place close for conservation work. The conservation work at Nash’s House is part of an exciting new project to redevelop New Place as a unique heritage landmark to tell the story of Shakespeare’s mature years as a writer and citizen of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Philippa Rawlinson, head of operations at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “Harvard House is a stunning example of the town’s Elizabethan architecture, and we’re delighted to be able to reopen this beautifully preserved property for the duration of the redevelopment project at New Place. This is a rare opportunity for visitors to discover what lies behind the beautifully carved façade, and come away with an appreciation for the wonderful history and heritage that’s on our doorstep.”
The redevelopment project is set to be completed in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has cared for Harvard House on behalf of Harvard University since 1990. From 1996-2010 it was the Museum of British Pewter following the donation to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust of the Neish Pewter Collection and the fitting out of Harvard House to accommodate it. The pewter collection now resides at Stirling Museum.
Harvard House is open daily from 11am-4pm (Winter Season), except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and ticket holders will be able to return for unlimited visits within 12 months.
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