Share this page

About Shakespeare's Birthplace

The house owned by the Shakespeares when William was born.

Where was Shakespeare Born?

The house now known as Shakespeare's Birthplace stands on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK. Documentary evidence allows us to trace who owned the house and who lived there, from the time of William's parents John and Mary Shakespeare, onwards.

John Shakespeare lived and worked in this house for fifty years. When he married Mary Arden she came to live with him and they had a total of eight children, including their son William Shakespeare. The house doubled as a glover's shop where John worked at the eastern end of the building, with a barn and workshops in the backyard. 

During the 16th century the area behind Shakespeare's house would have served various practical purposes, partly in connection with John Shakespeare's glove-making and wool-dealing activities. Outbuildings for the storage of animal skins and liming pits may have been sited there, together with a barn and a stable. The family is likely to have kept livestock such as a pig and hens. They would also have grown a range of vegetables, herbs and fruit trees for cooking and medicine. 

Around 20 years after its construction, a two-roomed cottage was added to the western end of the house, which is now known as Joan Hart's cottage. Shakespeare's sister Joan lived here with her husband William Hart in the early 17th century.

John Shakespeare died in 1601 and as the eldest surviving child, William inherited the house. He leased part of the property and it became an inn, later called the Swan and Maidenhead, which remained in the house until 1847. When Shakespeare died he left the house to his eldest daughter Susanna, although Joan Hart continued to rent the property as her home. When Susanna died the house passed to her daughter, Elizabeth.

Although Elizabeth married twice, she had no children, so when she died the house fell to Joan Hart's descendants. The house was owned by the Hart family until the late 18th century, until it went up for sale and was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1847. We have cared for it ever since.

Help keep Shakespeare's story alive

Donate Online

More like this

Shakespedia Index

Go behind the scenes

Read our blogs
Where Shakespeare's story started Relive Shakespeare's love story Walk in Shakespeare's footsteps