William Shakespeare’s Birthplace is the most visited of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Shakespeare-related attractions. It is the house where Shakespeare was born and raised and it contains an exhibition about the Bard’s life.
The house is believed to date from the mid-16th century and is built in the half-timbered wattle and daub style typical of buildings from the Tudor period. It belonged to William Shakespeare’s parents, John and Mary, and at the time it was the largest house on Henley Street.
The house was built to accommodate John Shakespeare’s workshop where he worked as a successful glovemaker and it also played an important role in William Shakespeare’s early life.
William Shakespeare was born in the house in 1564 and he grew up here. After marrying Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare lived in the house for the first five years of his marriage before he moved to London.
What to see at Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Visitors enter the house through a modern annexe that includes the ticket office and an exhibition space with a permanent exhibit about William Shakespeare’s life, work and his legacy.
The Famous Beyond Words exhibition features displays about Shakespeare’s work and his legacy and includes artefacts including an early printed folio and a 9m- (29 ft)-long timeline detailing Shakespeare’s 38 plays. The Shakespeare and Me section of the exhibition includes an interactive video exhibit that highlights the personal ways that people around the world respond to Shakespeare’s work.
After leaving the exhibition space, visitors enter the house, which was built to a traditional Tudor-era layout with the parlour, the hall and John Shakespeare’s workshop on the ground floor and three bedrooms upstairs.
The parlour would have been the most opulent room in the house, which included the best bed that was strictly reserved for guests.
The hall doubled as the family’s dining room and it is set up to show a typical midday meal, which would have been the main meal of the day.
John Shakespeare worked as a glovemaker (he was also mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon) and the ground floor workshop is set up to show how it would have appeared during the 16th century.
The three bedrooms are upstairs on the first floor. These include two children’s bedrooms – a boys’ bedroom and a girls’ bedroom – plus the parents’ room.
Visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Shakespeare’s Birthplace is located on the pedestrianised Henley Street in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. From here most points of interest in the town centre are no more than a five-minute walk, while it is a 10-minute walk to the railway station, a 13-minute walk to Holy Trinity Church and a 25-minute walk to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Although visitors can pay the entry fee to visit just Shakespeare’s Birthplace, it does not cost much more to buy a combined entry ticket that gives you admission to between three or five of the properties that are operated by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. The other attractions that this ticket gives you entry to are Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Hall’s Croft, Mary Arden’s Farm and Shakespeare’s New Place.
The historic nature of the building means that it not fully accessible for wheelchair users. Although the exhibition space, the gift shop and the ground floor are wheelchair accessible, there is no wheelchair access to the first floor and even if there was, the floors upstairs are uneven with doorways too narrow for most wheelchairs.
Most visitors take around an hour to visit the house.