“ Where Shakespeare's mother lived before her marriage. „
Last week, my partner and I went on holiday to Stratford-upon-Avon. While we were there, we wanted to see all of the houses associated with William Shakespeare, if we could. So on the Wednesday, we visited the second one - Mary Arden's Farm. We were lucky that our hotel was just over the road from this, so we didn't even have to drive there or worry about parking!
Mary Arden's Farm is three miles from the centre of Stratford at Wilmcote, CV37 9UN. It is open 10am till 5.30pm daily, thought it closes from October 30 for the winter. It has its own car park and a two-hour visit is recommended.
There are summer holidays activities from 23rd July to 4th September. Other things coming up this year include the Tudor Hiring Fair from August 27th to 29th and Apple Days on October 1st and 2nd.
We paid £19.50 each for an adult five house pass to all the Shakespeare's Houses and Gardens (Shakespeare's Birthplace, Nash's House and New Place, Hall's Croft, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's Farm). Tickets are valid for twelve months, so you can go back again for free. Children cost £12 and Concessions £17.50.
If you just want to go into Mary Arden's Farm, but not the other attractions, it will cost £9.50 per Adult with Children at £5.50 and Concessions £8.50.
Mary Arden's Farm is a real working Tudor Farm and famous for being the childhood home of Mary Arden, Shakespeare's mother. The farm aims to show what rural life was like in the 1570s. Attractions include Falconry displays, Mangalitza curly-haired pigs, the ability to feed the goats, you can see various farm animals (horses, cows, sheep, etc.) and there is an "easy circular nature trail" if you fancy a walk. There is an adventure playground for the kids too and this is probably the best attraction if you have a young family. You can even have children's parties here!
This was probably my favourite of the five Shakespearean houses, as there is a lot to see and I do love farm animals. The Mangalitza curly-haired pigs were great, as they are unusual looking and I found them fascinating. There were other more normal looking pigs and piglets too and the breeds of animals were clearly labelled, with some rare Bagot goats, English Longhorn cattle, Cotswold sheep and Tamworth pigs as well. You can touch the animals if you want to (and if they'll let you!), but I didn't as being pregnant, I didn't want to take any risks. The farm is aware of the importance of hygiene though and there are many hand sanitizer dispensers dotted around, with signs reminding you to wash your hands.
As you walk in to the reception, you are given a mini map of the site and you can follow this if you want to see everything, or you can just walk around as you wish. You can follow two routes marked out on the map - the Tudor Rose Trail (which covers the houses and main farm areas) or the Green Woodpecker Trail, which covers all of the grounds and involves much more walking.
On the Palmer's Farm section, there are displays of traditional crafts and farming activities such as threshing and bread-making. Mary Arden's House continues this theme with such activities as basket weaving. The part I found most interesting was in the kitchen where two women were preparing a pottage (a kind of stew which all the leftovers would go into). They had all the ingredients out and were cooking on the old fire. They explained what they were doing and how this would have been done back in Tudor days. They also had a basket of plucked chicken feathers, which they explained would be used for stuffing pillows.
I always find the houses fascinating and I was quite surprised by how spacious they were, although some of the spaces between the rooms were low, so you had to duck down. There are also parts where you can see inside the wall to find out how they were built. In one room, you could see how herbs were prepared and there were many different varieties growing in the gardens.
Upstairs in one of the rooms, there was a fun word activity where there were colour-coded flash cards. You chose a 'Thou' (white card) then picked a red card (a Shakespearean adjective), a yellow card (another Shakespearean adjective) and a green card (a Shakespearean noun) to make a funny Shakespearean insult! One of ours was 'Thou jarring ill-breeding rampallion!' but I haven't had chance to use it in conversation yet!
There are toilets at two locations, which are basic but okay. There is a picnic area in the shade with tables and benches, if you want to take your own packed lunch to eat. Otherwise, there is a cafe there with indoor and outdoor seating and a wide range of food and drink available for a fair price. I had a cream tea (warm scone with jam, cream and a pot of tea) as well as a banana milkshake, while my partner had a Ploughman's lunch. We were both impressed with the food and drink, as well as the seating area.
There is a gift shop on the way out with a wide mixture of souvenirs from pocket money gifts to more expensive ones. When we were there, a large group of schoolgirls were there on a trip, so the gift shop was packed and we didn't stay in there long.
Overall, we both enjoyed Mary Arden's Farm and probably did spend the suggested two hours there, so it felt like it was worth the money. Whereas most of the Shakespearean houses wouldn't appeal to young children, this one should do, as they will enjoy the animals and the playground, even if they don't know who William Shakespeare is.
Mary Arden's Farm
This was the second of the Shakespeare's houses that we visited on our first day in Stratford. We went straight here from Anne Hathaway's cottage on the tour bus. We had no idea what to expect and I was a little apprehensive after my disappointment with the visit to the cottage we had only just left. I wondered if we would be allowed to take photos and wondered how crowded it would be, would we be herded round or would we be able to enjoy the house at our leisure.
Who is Mary Arden? I hear you ask, she was William Shakespeare's mother and this is where she grew up before she married William's father John. The two 16th century farmhouses, the outbuildings and Palmers farm all once belonged to her father Robert Arden who was a farmer by trade. The house can be found located on the outskirts of the Forest of Arden in a small village called Wilmcote which is approximately three miles outside Stratford-upon-Avon.
We stepped of the bus and made our way to the entrance and show our tickets to the man at reception (which is also the gift shop); he pointed out to us that there was a falconry display starting in 20mins if we wished to go and see it. They do have a variety of birds of prey including owls, we did not get to see these on our visit as we chose to enjoy the farm and houses instead as it was getting rather late in the day.
I started to get excited as I could use our camera here and there was so much to see and do, (I am a big kid really); our tour started by us walking through a stone archway into a square where you could see small barns showing displays of old farming equipment. One of the items here that really stood out for me was an old fire cart, which was vital for the farmers to carry water to any fire that had. The nice thing about the displays was that they put a large easy to read information board with pictures and descriptions of the equipment on show to help you understand how they worked and were used.
There was a fairly modern looking building in the corner which holds the café and toilets are available in that part as well. There is no rush and you can walk about at your leisure and take the time to enjoy what you are looking at, you even have the time to read all about them as well. As you walk around Palmers farm you will see a cider mill and a dove cote which contains an amazing amount of nesting holes, 650 to be precise. You will see free range chickens, geese, pigs, goats and we did see a young calf which opened it eyes for a photo to be taken. I was like a child in a sweet factory looking at everything and making sure that I did not miss anything.
As we walked to Palmers Farm House we saw a lady in period costume tending to the chickens and feeding them; I think it adds something to the visit when you see these re-enactments. They do these to show how the farm would have been run during the 1570's Elizabethan era; you may be lucky enough to see them washing, gardening, shoe making, woodwork, housework or gardening, whatever activity they are doing at the time of your visit. We saw 2 men working on the gardens and a lady working with the chickens.
The farm house was lovely with its black and white timber framed frontage; inside was simply dressed for the time period and you will see the uneven walls and ceilings. The doorways are very low especially upstairs where even I had to duck and I am only 5ft 4in. There was no work going on inside the house today when we visited, we could see the embers in the fire so it looked like we had just missed out on the cooking demonstration. There was a table set out with leather and a pair of shoes, where someone had taken a break from the shoe making; if you time it right you can also watch someone making butter and cheese. When you look around the room take a close look at the carvings on the wooden features as you will be pleasantly surprised on how detailed they are.
Upstairs is staged as bedrooms (obviously) the beds are fairly small as they mainly slept sitting up for both superstitious reasons and for health ones; they felt that if you lay flat the 'devil' would think you were dead and steal your soul. The health side of it was, these houses had little ventilation and often smoke would move around the house from the open fires which made breathing difficult. Children stayed in their parents' room until they reached around 5 yrs old, they had a smaller bed which would fit under the parents' bed and be pulled out at right angles to the bed for the child to sleep.
At the far end of the upstairs was a dorm bedroom with six beds on the floor, it looked like just small mattresses on the wooden floors; there was an extremely low beam going across the room, it must have been a nightmare using this room with the beam being that low, it was only around 3ft off floor level.
After leaving the house we moved across the gardens and saw the 'men in costume' tending the vegetable patch, we also went past where the owls were kept, but they were obviously out with the other birds of pray for the display which was being shown in the next field. We looked into more barns displaying more items and I had my picture taken with a large ornament cow, you can imagine the caption my hubby gave it, lol and then onto Mary Arden's house.
It was only recently discovered that this house is the original Mary Arden house; previously it was always believed that the house, which was re-named Palmers Farm after the neighbouring farmer and friend of the family Adam Palmer in the year 2000. The true Mary Arden house has been in the hands of the trust for preservation since 1968. The house is dressed a lot more 'richer' style than the Palmers Farm House, I can only say this one was dressed as if the family were well off and the other one was more like a working family house. It was presented really well with some lovely period furniture and even had hares and partridges hanging up in the larder.
There was a guide (in modern clothing) here to tell us all about the house and answer any of our questions and he did not object to me taking loads of photos either. We were limited on time for our visit as it was coming to the end of the day so we did not get to cover all of the attractions they had to offer. We missed out on the adventure playground, but we may have looked a little odd being that we are both old and didn't have the grandkids with us. There were nature trails too which you could take a walk around and get to enjoy the beautiful farm and countryside.
Gift Shop - sells various memorabilia of your visit and of Shakespeare giving you a lovely selection of books, postcards, tea towels etc, ranging from a couple of pound to loads of money.
~~ How to get here ~~
Address for your sat nav
phone number 01789 293 455
You could stay in Stratford itself and catch the citybustour bus to see this, which is what we did.
~~ Opening Times ~~
It is open from March through to October, Monday - Sunday from 1000hrs - 1700hrs. It is closed the other months of the year.
~~ Prices ~~
For the Town houses tickets (these allow you entry to the 3 houses inside the town, Shakespeare's birthplace, Nash House and New place and Halls Croft.
Adult - £12.50
Children (ages 5-16yrs) - £8.00
Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) - £33.50
A multi ticket for all five houses is
Adult - £19.00
Children - £12.00
Family - £49.00
Concession - £17.00
Prices just for Mary Arden's cottage and farm
Adults - £9.50
Children - £5.50
Concession/OAP - £7.50
Family - £24.50
All these prices include the new 'Dig for Shakespeare' which has been bought out for 2010 it is where they are doing archaeological digs at the 3 of the historic locations, Hall's Croft, Shakepeare's Birthplace and New Place.
It is good to remember that you can gift aid your admission costs as well and if you book on line you save 10% on the ticket prices.
This is really worthwhile but you may wish to consider the bus tour as the ticket will only cost you around £5.50 more on the adult price and you will get driven to all of the houses, so no hassle trying to park etc.
You can buy the guide book at any of the houses in one of four languages, English, French, German or Japanese all are prices at £3.95, you can even buy these on line prior to your visit and you can get your tickets as well
~~ Opinion ~~
This was one of my favourite of the Shakespeare houses, there was so much to see and enjoy. The way that they presented the houses and the farm can only be praised, they were brilliant and with the re-enactments as well it was really bought to life, like stepping back in time. History is fascinating, but actually seeing people living it helps you understand it a lot more and you realise how much we have today compared to what they had then. Could you imagine having to make your own shoes, make your own cheese or butter and sleep on a hard bed sitting up? These two houses didn't have bathrooms inside, so no luxurious hot baths or showers to start your day. No wardrobes as they only changed their clothes at the end of each season.
I am really please we took the time to visit here, part of me wishes we had allowed a bit longer, as you could quite easy spend a morning or afternoon visiting with the children if you take the time to explore and watch people at work. My hubby enjoyed this one nearly as much as me, which was pretty good going as this was near the end of two weeks looking at historic buildings.
We both highly recommend here for a visit for all of the family as there is something that will suit people of all ages and interests.
Thank you so much for reading
After two glorious days in Stratford, we awoke to a sprinkling of rain on our final morning. But, with everything in the centre done and dusted, we decided to keep our plans for a visit to Mary Arden's Farm on the way home.
Counted as one of the 5 main Shakespeare Properties, and falling within the scope of the multi-house ticket, Mary Arden's Farm is not in Stratford itself, but in the village of Wilmcote, 3 miles away. It's an easy drive from the centre, mainly along one A-road, and is well sign posted. It took us about 10 minutes to get there with little traffic, and as we left we continued away from Stratford and hit the M40 about 15 minutes later.
Mary Arden was Shakespeare's mother, and this, her grandparents' home, was where she spent her childhood. The link to the Bard is perhaps less explicit than the other properties, but since we'd paid in bulk we thought we may as well stop by. It opens daily at 10am and we weren't the only ones there before the doors were unlocked. If you have a £19 multi-house ticket you just have it scanned in, otherwise it costs £9.50 for adults, £5.50 for children. From the experience we had there, this is an exorbitant overcharge, and had I paid specifically for this property, I would have been very disappointed.
We received a map as we arrived, but the path through the site is quite straightforward. Weaving through and around various buildings, we explored the whole place, dodging in and out of the rain that kept threatening to fall. The site is still a working farm, so this influences the things you can see and do: there are various pieces of machinery, carts, mill stones etc to admire; there are various animal enclosures housing horses, cows, owls, chickens and some perma-tanned orange pigs; you can enter into two properties (Mary Arden's House and Palmer's Farmhouse) and nosy around the kitchens, bedrooms and living areas, all maintained in authentic Tudor style.
Throughout the site there were lots of members of staff dressed up in historic costumes, but I was surprised by how keen they were...or more accurately weren't....to interact with the guests. People were setting up as we went round. I wouldn't have expected this, not least because 10am is not the crack of dawn. For an attraction like this, I would expect the experience to be the same whether you're there when they open, mid afternoon, or the hour before they close. There were lots of staff there....but they were all standing around talking to each other, rather than us, the paying visitors. I appreciate that it was a rainy day, but it was within their opening hours, and in high season, so I would have expected a little more input from them: explaining what we were seeing in the houses (which lacked any explanatory information or signs), or pointing out 'must sees' in the grounds. No one was notably unpleasant, but it was almost as if they were going about their business and existing in spite of, not because of, the visitors. This was in stark contrast to the other properties we visited, where we had some excellent and knowledgeable volunteer guides. Had I not brought my own Stratford-veteran with me, I would not, for example, have discovered that it was only quite recently that they realised that Palmer's Farmhouse was not where Mary Arden had lived, and that her house was actually the property next door. There was also a complete lack of information about the woman whose life story is less well known than her son's. It seemed odd that the Shakespeare Trust weren't making more of the site, since they seemed to be implying that her house was worth you visiting (and paying to get in) but her life was not interesting enough to fill you in on.
Signs at the reception showed what activities were planned for the day: Falconry was a big one, along with other displays and activities specifically for kids, but none sounded so thrilling that we wanted to hang about for them. I thought it was a shame that they didn't have more , smaller things on on a continuous loop throughout the day, rather than saving them up for scheduled times. All the literature for the farm harps on about 'earning your keep' by participating in interactive activities like baking bread, wood cooking, caring for animals and hearth cooking (hopefully the last two aren't intrinsically linked) so I wasn't expecting, after almost an hour on site, that I'd leave without seeing any of them.
As with the other properties, this one has lovely gardens, but for me they weren't enough. Take away the very vague link to Shakespeare and this is just another basic farm experience, and not a very impressive one. It might appeal more to those with children into all things nature-related, but there are better, and cheaper, places you could visit were that the case. For adults it really doesn't offer much in the way of interest or stimulation, and we weren't the only ones moving round quite swiftly, but for children I suppose it might be the most appealing of the houses as you have room (and permission) to run around wildly, at least when you're not inside the buildings.
The route is quite restricted, and though you can go round as many times as you like, you can't wander off as easily as you can at, say, Anne Hathaway's cottage. If you've come to learn about Shakespeare you'll be sorely disappointed, but equally you're unlikely to learn much about farm life due to the lack of information signs or boards. What you see is what you get, so if you can't figure out the significance of what you're seeing, you're not going to get much.
The Farm has a nice if a little generic gift shop, and a cafe. It is reasonably accessible for wheelchairs or prams, and has a large, free car park. It is open only during mid-to-high season (March to October).
It might have been worth an extra star if we'd visited on a sunny day, but this is England and I think they should cater to the potential for changeable weather. The old 'Hope for the best, prepare for the worst' mantra would apply well here.
My lasting impression was that this place was the least geared up for visitors of all the properties. If I returned to Stratford I would want to go back to some of the other places, but don't think I'd ever feel the need to revisit this farm.
Mary Arden's House and Palmer's Farm.
This property, approximately 5 miles outside Stratford-Upon-Avon in the village of Wilmcote, is alleged to be the childhood home of William Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden. I say alleged, as for many years the part now known as Palmer's Farm was considered incorrectly to be the family home, but it has subsequently revealed to be the neighbouring Glebe Farm which had been owned by the Arden family. I have to say I wasn't a hundred percent certain, as I went around, which property was which.
Both properties are now owned and managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) and cost £8 for an adult to go in. It is also included in the Five House ticket (£17) but not the Four House ticket. Had I known about the Four House ticket, I would have bought it, as this farm property always appealed the least out of the five.
When we arrived, there was not much time to closing and the falconry and many of the other demonstrations had finished for the day. I have to say I wasn't that disappointed, I have seen falconry before and I have visited farms before. As an adult, I tend to get somewhat underwhelmed when being presented with the opportunity to pet a pig or a goat. The chap on the admissions desk berated us for arriving late, saying this was the property that people spent most of their time at. I can see that if you came as a family there is a lot more for the younger members to do as there appears to be lots of demonstrations and interaction with period dressed guides. Personally we were getting a bit Shakespeare'd out at this point, but this house didn't really add anything to the Shakespeare experience for us.
I believe the part of the property towards the back is the former Glebe Farm, the Arden's property. This is now the Shakespeare Countryside Museum and contains various farming equipment in the outhouses, personally this is of little interest to me so we just whizzed through it. The equipment has nothing to do with Shakespeare; it's just in the property of his ancestors. There are also animals here, who had been put away in their pens (I am not sure where they are in the day, but I like to think they are let out from the little pens), you can still see them and there is a little bit of information on nearby plaques as to what breed of pig etc they were. There is a farm house that you can walk around. It isn't 16th Century inside like in the other properties, but seems to have artefacts and features from across the eras, I believe this was the Arden family home, but there was not a guide actually in the house at this time. Some of the guides (who usually wear period costume) were out and about elsewhere, and we saw several as we came in and there was a chap busy in the blacksmiths section. I am sure they would be helpful and informative as those we found at the other SBT properties, but we didn't really have anything to ask them as we were slightly disappointed on the emphasis on farming rather than Shakespeare. I understand that various demonstrations happen at certain points in the farming calendar. As I have said, the Shakespeare connection was tenuous, I assume he visited here as a child, but no one knows for sure - he probably visited lots of places!
There seemed to be plenty of toilets, although I didn't use any. The gift shop was larger than in the other properties, and the emphasis was on more child orientated gifts. The café was also quite large with lots of seating and a picnic area. This also says to me that this property is more of a family attraction, and we felt we needn't have bothered to come and see it. By all means, if you are in the area with children, come and visit this place, but don't expect to learn much about Shakespeare. Your tickets are valid for a year so you can come back again and again. If, like us, you visited Stratford-Upon-Avon to tour Shakespeare's properties and immerse yourself in that period of history don't feel guilty if you don't come out here - unless you have a strong interest in farming history, I think you will find that you didn't miss much.
We were looking for somewhere to go for a day out on Saturday and decided on Stratford as it not far from us at all, with plenty to do. We decided upon the Butterly Farm and Mary Arden's House and Farm, we never made it to the Butterfly Farm as we spent hours at Mary's.
This particular site is where Mary Arden lived as a child with her parents. Mary Arden is the mother of William Shakespeare. This historical site is full of authenticity.
Mary Arden's Farm
Telephone: +44 (0) 01789 293 455
3 miles from Stratford town centre
All 5 Shakespeare Houses
Mary Arden's Farm
Anne Hathaway's Cottage
Nash's House and New Place
What Is There?
Our first stop was Mary Arden's Kitchen, the cafe, as it was nearly lunchtime when we got there and we were a bit peckish. Our order was: one ham salad manchet roll, one BLT manchet roll, a packet of crisps, one coffee and one drench drink. The cost was £12.95. I was not at all shocked by the prices but I do feel that they were a little steep. Having said that the food was very tasty and the rolls were served with crisps and salad. The B in the BLT was in abundance and the ham in the ham salad was hand carved, very thickly and was good.
I did not notice any vending machines or any other eating / refreshments facilities anywhere else on the site.
There are two farm areas with pigs, goats and lots of chickens and various other birds. There is a large statue of a cow with false udders which children and adults can use to learn the milking technique.
The highlight of our day and the entire reason I picked the site out, was the Falconry display. These displays take place hourly on the half hour and are run by a very skilled Falconer and some of his birds. The bird he flew was named Hamlet (I really have no idea of how that name came about, lol). Myself and my other half both participated in 'catching' Hamlet, whereby we stood with a small piece of a chick in our gloved hands and the bird swooped in and landed for the food. It was a very unique experience which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Almost all of the 20 strong crowd participated and the bird performed each time. Just beware of pushchairs if you sit and watch the display, tuck them between the benches... Jake very nearly got swept away with Hamlet which was a scary moment. *Disclaimer - Neither child nor bird where hurt during the incident*
Oh, and the second highlight of our day was the Donkey ride. Jake sat on a donkey and seemed to really like it so the donkey ride staff took him off for a little ride around the green, daddy clutching on to Jake fearing he would fall. He only had a very short ride and the staff did not want to charge us but for their effort and kindness I paid them their usual fee of £2 which I believe includes a walk around most of the grounds. It was worth it to be able to get photographs of Jake's first donkey ride.
**The Shakespeare Experience**
All of the 'staff' were dressed in costume of 1575 and worked in the same way that they would have done back then, chopping wood, cooking, washing up with typical tools of the period. The wood chopper allowed young children to participate and they made nails from wood. The children seemed to really enjoy the experience and got a keepsake of their day.
It really brought home the Elizabethan way of life, which I learnt about at school but have not taken much interest in since. It really is a marvel to see it all come to life. Even the smells and sounds add to the whole effect. The staff were all very friendly, chatting and happy to talk us through any questions we had and we were shown how to make mutton fat candles!! Nice smell....NOT.
One of the properties on the site features the kitchen and dairy and dining area with the entire top floor consisting of bedrooms, 3 or 4 which contained a sleeping areas for 23 people. The smells in the children's bedroom where very authentic to say the least!!
**Toilet and Hand Washing Facilities**
I counted at least three sets of toilets walking around the site and used two of them. They were not far off Elizabethan standards (LMAO) but clean and adequate. No, really they were pretty decent!
There were many hand alco-gel/cleansing foam pump stations dotted around the farm and notices to wash hands after touching the animals and before eating.
All in all this was lovely family day out and it took up around 4 hours of our day which included lunch.
I must note that the price for admission is for a 12 month pass, which is incredibly good value. However, if we had been offered the 5 homes pass I would have undoubtedly purchased that as it works out at great value and we will definitely be visiting the other properties and this one again.
Sadly, the Falconer doing the display did tell us that he was retired and that as far as he was aware the displays would not be continuing at the start of the next season. Still, even without this the time we spent was packed full of fun and education for all ages.
They do offer children's parties here, which would certainly be a different experience to the usual soft play areas and bouncing castle type parties. To find out more check out the website www.shakespeare.org.uk
The property is now closed for the season and re-opens on 22nd March 2010. The property is open from 10am until 5pm.We will definitely to going back next year and making more use of our tickets.
A beautiful Tudor thatched and timber which was thought to have been the childhood home of Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden. The property is situated in the stunning Warwickshire village of Wilmcote which is only 3 miles away from Stratford itself.
What was originally thought to be Mary's home has since been discovered that a neighbouring property 'Glebe Farm' was really her house so this is now known as Mary Arden's house and the previous homestead was renamed Palmer's farm, both properties are owned by the Shakespeare Birthtrust foundation and can be viewed. The original home now being home to a countryside museum.
We bought the 5 property pass online (receiving a welcome online discount) whih means we could visit all 5 Shakespeare properties for about £15 and we can go as many times as we want in the next of the year. As we had the pass I don't know how much individual access to this property alone is, they seem to vary between £6-£8 but best to check in advance. It is definately worthhile buying in advance and getting a multi-house pass (various house combinations available online with 10% discount).
Facilities: Cafe, toilets, free parking and gift shop
Unlike the other Shakespeare properties which are merely 'show homes' this property has been continually inhabited by farmers and kept as a working farm. There is a lovely dovecote with over 600 nesting holes, a well preserved cidermill and barns.
Displays at the property include rare breed farm animals, displays of traditional tudor lifestyle and falconry shows.
I didn't find this an enjoyable as the other properties, it is more an attraction for families with children but it is still worth viewing none the less. There is a pretty ochard and meadow walk which is enjoyable if the weather is nice.
******* start of update 30/11/2000 **** There's a slight problem with this opinion - it's not Mary Arden's House ! After doing some digging around, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have just announced that Mary Arden actually lived next door in Glebe Farm (also owned by the Trust and open to the public). There will follow a period of re-signing properties and re-printing of literature !! The good news is that you will still be able to see both houses though I will curious to see what the Guides will be seeing. Despite this - its still worth a visit ****** end of update 30/11/2000 ***** I know quite a bit about this property (he says modestly) – I worked there as a Guide about 20 years ago. It’s a fascinating house with lots to see and I personally feel that its under-rated compared with Shakespeare’s birthplace or Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Mary Arden’s House can be found in the village of Wilmcote, about 5 minutes on the train from Stratford on the Birmingham line. There is a service there at least every hour. Alternatively, take the A3400 north from Stratford. Incidentally, it can also be reached from the Stratford to Birmingham canal, which passes through the village. If you like the guided tour bit – the Guide Friday bus company visit the house twice per day (well they did in my day). Who was Mary Arden? She was Shakespeare’s Mother. The Arden’s were a fairly wealthy family and indeed the house is located in what was once was called the Forest of Arden (hence Henley in Arden, Hampton in Arden etc). Shakespeare’s father was called John and was born in a nearby village called Snitterfield (where I was born). He was a glove maker by trade. The house was built in the C15 century and has been owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust since the 1920’s. It has an upper and lower floor, though the floor above the main hall was added later. Entering the house, the first room to the right is the kitchen with a huge fireplace and numerous cooking instruments. The floor is covered in stone slabs and the cold rising through them plays havoc with the Guide’s knees!! The next room to be found is the Main (or Great Hall). This room also has a fireplace and 2 inglenooks (little seats) next to the fire. As Guides we used to give the visitors talks on life in Tudor days and it often became a bit crude – much to the squeamishness of the Americans. Other rooms downstairs comprise the servant’s quarters and a larder for storing food. The upstairs consists of 2 bedrooms at either side of the house together with the bedroom in the middle (previously mentioned). Other than the house, there is a lot to see. Inside the numerous barns, can be found agricultural instruments, wagons and an old horse drawn fire engine. One of the strange exhibits is a carriage belonging to a famous C19 dwarf named ‘Tiny Tim’ or something similar. One of the most recent additions is the farm at the far end of the house (called Glebe Farm). When I was there it was abandoned and covered in weeds. It has been converted and is home to more exhibits and a collection of animals (birds I believe). And to complete the story is the large, well-stocked Gift shop. I haven’t been in the house for nearly 20 years and so I cannot inform you of current admission prices. However, I am sure you are still able to buy a combined ticket to visit all properties more cheaply than coughing up the fee at each house. Mary Arden’s house is not the most popular house, but as Guides we always tried to give visitors an insight into life in C15 England. Too many houses charge a fortune and those Guides (or room watchers) stand like statues waiting for the crowds to go through and out the other end. If you have time to visit a couple of properties, don’
t be predictable and go to Anne Hathaway’s – try Mary Arden instead. There are also 2 pubs in the village, which sell good pub lunches too!!