Our Story


We are the world’s leading charity in promoting the works, life and times of William Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Centre Library Reading Room


We offer a unique Shakespeare centred experience with outstanding archive and library collections, inspiring educational and literary event programmes and five wonderful houses all directly relating to Shakespeare.

As an independent charity we receive no public subsidy or direct government funding. We depend entirely on income generated through our supporters: our visitors, volunteers, donors and Friends.

 

Our History

 

 

 

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was formed in 1847 following the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace as a national memorial.
 
The role of the Trust grew with the purchase in 1876 of Shakespeare’s New Place estate, comprising the site of Shakespeare’s grand final home and Nash’s House (the home of Thomas Nash and Shakespeare’s grand-daughter Elizabeth).

The Trust purchased Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the girlhood home of Shakespeare’s wife, in 1892 and Mary Arden’s House was purchased in 1930.

The last house to be acquired was Hall’s Croft, the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, physician Dr John Hall, in 1949.

In 1964 to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth the Trust threw open the doors of its new headquarters and study facility, the Shakespeare Centre.  This distinctive building provides a home for the Trust’s extensive Shakespeare Centre library and archive (including the RSC archive). The second part of this project, an extension including facilities for the Trust educational and cultural work and a visitor centre for Shakespeare’s Birthplace, was added in 1981.

In addition to the Shakespeare Houses, the Trust cares for Harvard House on behalf of the Harvard House Memorial Trust.