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The House After Shakespeare

What happened to the birthplace after Shakespeare?

Two Houses on Henley Street

William Shakespeare inherited two Henley Street properties in 1601, after the death of his father, John Shakespeare. The total length of the land amounted to roughly 90 feet.

The manuscript, in fairly illegible Latin, has certain words picked out in larger script. There is a tag at the foot which once held a seal.
Fragment of deed linking John Shakespeare to properties on Henley Street in 1597

William rented the two properties to tenants, one of whom was his sister, Joan Hart, who resided in a cottage in the western part of the house. The tenant at the eastern end of the house was Lewis Hiccox, who was granted a victualler’s license in 1604. After William Shakespeare’s death in 1616, the ownership of the two properties passed to his daughter, Susanna Hall, and after 1649, it went to her daughter, Elizabeth Barnard.

From House to Inn

The second, larger property was re-named by new tenant John Rutter in 1647, becoming the Swan and Maidenhead Inn. Four occupants later, the inn - now known as the Maidenhead - was reduced in size, and the residential side of the property became home to Shakespeare Hart, Joan’s great grandson. He lived here until his death in 1747, after which this part of the house was inhabited by his descendants. What was previously Joan Hart’s house became one of four terraced cottages.

After 1793, the smaller part of the Maidenhead property was rented to a butcher, Thomas Hornby, while the entire premises were owned by the Hart family. In the early 1800s, the property was purchased by Thomas Court who left the ownership and the Maidenhead licence to his daughter, Anne Court and his other surviving children. By this point, in 1848, the property had been purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace trustees. The eastern part of the property was still the Swan and Maidenhead Inn, while the central tenement was a butcher’s shop, leaving the small cottage at the western side as a residential home. 

Timeline of owners from Shakespeare's death to the sale in 1847:

The owners of the property:

  •   ?    -1601   John Shakespeare
  • 1601-1616   William Shakespeare
  • 1616-1649   Susanna Hall
  • 1649-1670   Elizabeth Barnard, nee Nash
  • 1670-   ?       Thomas Hart
  •   ?     -1707   George Hart
  • 1707-1744   Shakespeare Hart
  • 1744-1753   Ann Hart
  • 1753-1757   George Hart
  • 1757-1793   Thomas Hart
  • 1793-1796   John and Thomas Hart
  • 1796-1800   John Hart
  • 1800-1806   William Shakespeare Hart
  • 1806-1818   Thomas Court
  • 1818-1846   Ann Court
  • 1846-1848   Surviving children of Thomas Court

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