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About Shakespeare's Birthplace
Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the house where William Shakespeare was born and lived until his mid-twenties was large; the largest in Henley Street in fact. His parents John and Mary were quite wealthy. Shakespeare’s world was full of sound, no newspapers or magazines and certainly no Facebook or Twitter. The main way to communicate was to talk. The house would have been full of voices!
John Shakespeare lived and worked in this house for fifty years. When he married Mary Arden she came to live with him, they had eight children in total, their third child was William Shakespeare. In 1568 John became the Mayor of Stratford, the highest elective office. On Sunday, dressed in his fine red robes he would have been escorted to Holy Trinity church. It was because of his father’s status as Mayor that William went to the local grammar school.
Stratford upon Avon would have been, as today, a busy, vibrant place. Being a market town each week people from the surrounding villages would have come to sell and buy. Greenways based in Henley Street operated a weekly carrier service to and from London; they would have brought to Stratford many of the new spices and other luxuries coming into the country.
When John Shakespeare died William inherited the house and turned most of it into a tavern, the Swan and Maidenhead. When Shakespeare died he left the house to Susanna, his eldest daughter and when she died she left it to her only child Elizabeth. Elizabeth, although marrying twice had no children, so when she died she left it to a descendant of Joan Hart, one of Shakespeare’s sisters.
Until the early 19th century the house was owned by the Hart’s and in 1847 was bought by the Birthplace Trust who have cared for it ever since.
For the official guidebook of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust visit our online shop.