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The Birthplace Now

William Shakespeare's Birthplace is a site of international historic significance and welcomes visitors from all over the world!

The Birthplace today is a site of international historic significance. Visitors can peruse the exhibition in the Shakespeare Centre, explore the gardens, and walk on the same stone floor as William Shakespeare did in his childhood home. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust works hard to continue to preserve the house for future generations and honour the memory of the world’s most iconic literary figure.

The aim of the Birthplace today is to give a sense of what a house on Henley Street would have been like for Shakespeare to grow up in. Costumed guides tell tales of family life in the Shakespeare household, and the Shakespeare Aloud! acting company perform scenes, speeches, and poetry in the garden, entertaining visitors from around the world.

Although no original furnishings of the Shakespeare family survive, the Birthplace has been filled with pieces produced contemporaneously to Shakespeare’s life, or modern reproductions that mimic the surroundings he would have known. This gives visitors an opportunity to walk in the bard’s childhood footsteps, and engage with a wealth of written materials relating to Shakespeare (such as in the summer of 2017 when Shakespeare's will was publicly displayed at Henley Street).

Since the Birthplace was bought for museum purposes in 1847, over 25 million people have enjoyed exploring it. A visitor book is kept in the Birthplace, which everyone is welcome to sign. These visitor records are kept by the Trust in 188 separate books held in boxes that take up 30 metres of shelving. The Birthplace’s VIP visitor books hold the signatures of hundreds of famous figures, from Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill to Princess Diana. The Birthplace is no stranger to royal visitors, with Queen Elizabeth II having signed the guest book twice. 

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Shakespeare's Birthplace VIP visitor book

The Birthplace works hard to make itself and its history accessible to as many people as possible. In 2017 the Trust initiated the first British Sign Language tour of Shakespeare’s Birthplace to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors could engage fully with the property. The Trust is committed to helping younger generations understand the importance of preserving Shakespeare, his life, works, and legacy. In 2014, Shakespeare Week was launched which the ambition to introduce Shakespeare to every primary school child in the country - providing free resources to teachers across all subjects in the national curriculum.

The history of the Birthplace is not just celebrated nationally, but it is also recognised on the world stage. Every year, thousands of international tourists flock to Henley Street to visit the first home of Stratford’s most famous resident. It has become so popular in China that the Fuzhou Culture and Tourism Investment Company Ltd. have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Trust to recreate Shakespeare’s family home at San Weng in the People’s Republic of China.

The legacy of the 1847 purchase of the Birthplace is upheld by the Trustees, employees, and volunteers at the Birthplace today, who work tirelessly to preserve and protect Shakespeare’s Birthplace and to keep alive the legacy of William Shakespeare. 

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