Shakespeare Birthplace Trust offers free behind the scenes tours

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be opening the doors of grade 1 listed building - Harvard House - and offering 11 new behind the scenes tours of their archives this month.

02 September 2013

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be opening the doors of grade 1 listed building Harvard House and offering 11 new behind the scenes tours of their archives this month in a bid to encourage more people to check out the wealth of history available on their doorstep – as part of Open Heritage Days.

The charity, which looks after the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare-related artefacts and archives open free to the public, will join the national campaign by running free hour long tours through their archives which house one million documents and 50,000 books including over 80 translations of Shakespeare’s plays.  Local visitors are being invited to see production photos from the RSC’s 2008 Hamlet which starred Dr Who actor David Tenant, as well as catch a glimpse of Holy Trinity Church’s parish records which include Shakespeare’s christening and burial entries.  A special art archive tour will also be on offer to visitors who can check out a range of portraits painted from the seventeenth to twentieth century of England’s most famous playwright.

Members of the public can also visit Harvard House which was built in 1596 by wealthy townsman Alderman Thomas Rogers whose grandson founded Harvard College in America.  Visitors will be able to learn more about the history of the house which is owned by Harvard University and view an array of furniture typical of the home of wealthy, fashionable people in the 1600s including a seventeenth century walnut cane armchair and oak box seat stool.

Philippa Rawlinson, Head of Operations and Business Development at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “We are delighted to be once again taking part in Heritage Open Days which is a great opportunity for people to celebrate what’s so special about Stratford-upon-Avon. While we welcome scholars and enthusiasts from all over the world, many local people do not get a chance to go behind the scenes and see some of the 11,000 museum items in the five Shakespeare Houses.

“We hope people will come along and take up the chance to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most valuable literary items which are kept on their doorstep.”


Notes to editors:
Press release date: 17 September 2013.

For more information please contact Press and Public Affairs Officer Nurinder Mantell or call 01789 207136.

History on the doorstep: Children enjoy looking at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archives which includes an array of historical, theatrical and literary offerings.

Harvard House will open its doors on 14-15 September from 10am to 3pm, as part of Open Heritage Days.

Archive tours take place at the Shakespeare Centre in Henley Street and must be booked in advance and are available on 12 September at 2.30pm, 13 September at 10.30am and again during 14-15 September at 10am, 11am and 2.30pm. An additional tour at 1pm on 14-15 September can be booked on the day.  The art tour takes place at 2.30pm on 14 September. For more information contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Library and Archive Department on 01789 204016. All tours take place at the Shakespeare Centre in Henley Street.

For more information visit the What’s On page of the Shakespeare Birthplace website.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world. The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no public subsidy or direct government funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends.