Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to auction old farming tools

Hundreds of nineteenth and twentieth century farming tools ranging from horse drawn vehicles to humble spades will go under the hammer on 10 October, when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will hold an auction sale of objects which do not fit the remit of its internationally important museum collection. The sale follows a review of the charity’s agricultural and horticultural collections.

02 October 2012


H J Pugh & Co of Ledbury has been appointed to run the auction at The Hill, Warwick Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, where some of the items to be sold have been stored.

The sale will appeal to collectors of agricultural and horticultural equipment, and to anyone with an interest in the rural past.  More than 600 items associated with farming, gardening, metal working and domestic life, mostly without provenance, will be sold without reserve.

Most of the artefacts being offered for sale were acquired by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust during the 1970s and 1980s when it was planned to develop Mary Arden’s Farm as a museum of rural life.  However, the charity has since focused on promoting the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times.  Today, the working Tudor farm at Wilmcote is presented much as it would have been when Shakespeare was a boy visiting his mother’s childhood home in the 1570s, so the tools from later centuries are no longer needed.

Items for auction have been identified as part of a wide-ranging Effective Collections project began in 2010 with grant funding from the Museums Association and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.   This project formed the basis of a case study to be used as an example of museum best practice by Arts Council England.*

New homes have been found at other museums for some objects in the agricultural collection, while others have been put to use by the Trust’s education and community engagement teams.   All proceeds from the disposal of the remaining collection will be used to fund the conservation and development Trust’s core museum collection.

Delia Garratt, Head of Collections and Interpretation at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “We hold the world’s largest collection of artefacts related to Shakespeare’s works, life and times, open free to the public. Like many museums we do not have as much space as we would like to display or store artefacts in suitable conditions.  Dispersing items which are not core to the purpose of the Trust will allow us to focus resources on items more closely associated with Shakespeare and his local and global legacy. We hope the auction will attract lots of collectors and enthusiasts who would like to snap up their own piece of farming and gardening history and help us into the bargain.”


*In 2011 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust became one of the first heritage organisations to achieve accreditation under a new scheme which sets nationally agreed standards for UK museums. 

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust holds the world’s largest collection of artefacts related to Shakespeare’s works, life and times, open free to the public.  The Museum Collection alone includes more than 11,000 objects including furniture, art and domestic items, many of which are on display in the Shakespeare Houses.  The Library and Archive includes precious and rare documents relating to the playwright, reference works, books on performance history, biographies, critical studies, individual editions of Shakespeare’s plays and complete works, pictures and photographs.  The Trust also cares for the historic archives of Stratford-upon-Avon and the RSC Archive of production materials from 1879 to the present.


The auction will be held at:

The Hill,

Warwick Road,


CV37 0NP


For information about the sale, please contact H J Pugh & Co

T: 01531 631122