The House Where Shakespeare was Born
During the warm summer months in Karachi many years ago, my cousins and I would spend the afternoon reading. To be honest, the responsibility of reading fell upon me—the eldest in the group—and it was mostly Shakespeare that the children requested. But the hardest part was that they didn’t want to listen to the story in English (the language in which the books were written) and insisted that I read it to them in Urdu. Well, at least it improved my translating skills and made me appreciate Shakespeare’s work.
Several years later and I found myself walking in the charming town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. We were in Warwickshire for a day and visited two historical sites: the Warwick castle and Shakespeare’s birth place, much to my excitement.
You can easily accomplish both in a day and do not need any guides.
“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.”
—Lucio in Measure for Measure
The house where Shakespeare was born is said to be receiving visitors for more than 250 years now!
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on April 1564. His parents, John and Mary Shakespeare, were wealthy enough to own the largest house on Henley Street. John even went to become the Mayor of Stratford, which was the highest elective office in the town.
William inherited the house when his father died. He spent the first five years of his marriage living here with his wife Anne Hathaway.
He leased part of the property and it became an inn called the Maidenhead (and later the Swan and Maidenhead). The inn remained until 1847.
When Shakespeare died he left the house to his eldest daughter Susanna.
What’s inside this famous house?
It’s quite obviously a museum now with an entry fee of £16 (US$ 20) per person. You’ll be able to complete the visit in 30 minutes.
There are lots of people in costume either performing or ready to answer your questions. There’s a dining room, a bedroom, and very few artefacts from the period relating to William or his family. The rest are period knick-knacks at best.
A disadvantage of touring a small property such as this is when your visit coincides with large school trips and tourist groups. Expect families, groups, excited children clustered around and blocking all views and pathways.
There’s a gift shop, too. It’s the biggest part of the house.
Is it worth visiting?
If you’re a massive Shakespeare fan, yes.
The town is charming and the Tudor-style architecture is fascinating to me (I love historical buildings!). However, I would not recommend spending money to go inside the house. It feels too touristy.
The house is also difficult to find, and we had to ask around for directions.
Okay, so what should I do with my £16 instead?
Treat yourself to some warm scones and coffee or tea!
Have some ice cream.
Or visit one of the of antique shops in town. You might find something interesting!