Mary Arden’s Farm — the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s mother in Stratford-upon-Avon — reopens for the 2020 season on Saturday, 14 March, with a series of new farm tours and more demonstrations of traditional Tudor crafts that will give visitors an insight into 16th century rural life.
Meet the resident Tudors as they go about their daily tasks on the farm and in the home, as Shakespeare’s mother would; learn about table manners and dining rituals; and find out about traditional crafts — enjoy demonstrations and even have a go yourself in one of the regular hands-on sessions throughout the year.
New for 2020 will be farm talks and mini tours with new farm manager Isabelle Butterworth, who will introduce the rare breed animals, including the newest arrivals, and demonstrate hand sheep shearing, hoof trimming, and donkey and pony grooming.
There will also be birds of prey displays, the chance to try archery, follow the woodland trail to the viewing tower to enjoy spectacular views across the 23-acre site, and enjoy the children’s outdoor play area and willow tunnel.
The farm team will also celebrate three special days in the Tudor calendar: Midsummer, 21 June; Lammas Day, the first wheat harvest of the year, 1 August; and Harvest, 27 September. Beekeeping was popular in the Tudor period, so they will also celebrate World Bee Day on 24 May.
The Arden family lived at the site in the first half of the 16th century. Mary lived there for the first 20 years of her life, before marrying John Shakespeare in 1557 and moving into Stratford-upon-Avon town. The site was purchased in the 1930s by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Abi Moore, Mary Arden’s Farm site manager, said, “Our resident Tudors give visitors a perfect opportunity to see for themselves what daily rural life was like in Tudor England for Mary Arden, Shakespeare’s mother. They can experience the sights, sounds and smells of the farm life that Mary grew up in before marrying and starting her own family in town.”