Garden at New Place
A fascinating trip into Shakespeare houses
They are some of the most fascinating of the Shakespeare properties but are often overlooked, so we zoomed in on Hall's Croft, New Place and Nash's House.
Although they may not have the worldwide fame of the other Shakespeare properties, Nash’s House, New Place Gardens and Hall’s Croft are very much worth a visit – and not just because of their links with the most famous writer of all time.
Nash’s House and New Place Gardens stand side-by-side in Stratford’s town centre, with the façade of Nash’s House being one of the most magnificent buildings in the town.
It’s just sad, then, that all that remains of the even more imposing and grand New Place is part of a wall and foundations, on which stands a gorgeous Elizabethan-style knot garden.
Exterior of Nash's House and garden
The story begins in 1597, when Shakespeare bought the brand new property – the only house to be made of brick in Stratford and he moved in in 1610 to live out the final years of his life in luxury.
After his death, on his birthday in 1616, the house was left to his daughter Susanna, who in turn passed it to her daughter Elizabeth – who married Thomas Nash, who lived next door.
She was the last of the Shakespeare line and so the house was returned to the town’s famous Clopton family, who opened the house to tourists.
Tourists begin to arrive
And the tourists kept coming, even after it was taken over by the Reverend Francis Gastrell. The revd, eccentric to say the least, was driven mad by the visitors and, in a fit of rage, chopped down Shakespeare’s mulberry tree!
An old mulberry tree still stands in the gardens behind the properties and rumour has it that it was grown from part of the tree destroyed by Gastrell.
The eccentric clergymen made sure the residents of Stratford would fall out with him once and for all when, this time in a fit of rage over a tax dispute, he razed the house to the ground!
A tranquil haven
The gardens at New Place can be accessed via Nash’s House, the home of Thomas Nash, which is now home to a fine collection of furniture from the Jacobean and Elizabethan periods and also houses the town’s history museum, which traces Stratford from its very beginnings.
Outside Nash's House is the peaceful and lush Shakespeare Memorial Garden, which provides a perfect haven from the hustle and bustle of Stratford town centre.
A 'wall' of yew trees shields the space from shoppers and visitors in a typical Elizabethen style.
It is worth, too, taking some time out to enjoy a closer look at the exterior of the house, which was restored to its full-timbered glory after being bricked up in the 1700s.
History comes to life
Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna, mentioned above as the heir to New Place, married a very successful local medic, Dr John Hall, and their former home – Hall’s Croft – is also a delightful place to visit.
The magnificent house, which dates back to the very earliest part of the 16th century, was extended to make a fitting residence for Dr Hall who was held in very high regard amongst the Stratford community.
The earliest parts of the house can still be seen today and the whole building shows us beautifully how life was for a wealthy young couple at the time, with a superb collection of furniture and paintings typical of the period.
Perhaps best of all, Hall’s Croft also features an exhibit showcasing the medical practices of the time – which you can see on our 360 image – and some of the equipment is enough to make you feel faint just looking at it!
last updated: 03/04/2008 at 10:26