“ Where Shakespeare's daughter and son-in-law (Dr John Hall) lived. „
During our recent holiday to Stratford-upon-Avon, my fiancé and I visited all of the five Shakespeare houses. The last one we visited was Hall's Croft, which was another I had not heard of until we began sight-seeing there.
Hall's Croft is situated in Stratford itself, at the postcode CV37 6BG and is not far (a short walk) from Nash's House and New Place. It is open daily except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Under fives are free. In the summer holidays, there is an I Spy Timber Buildings quiz for the kids and outdoor plays are performed in the gardens during June, July and August.
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 with Children's tickets priced at £12 each and £17.50 for Concessions. You can also get a Shakespeare's Birthplace Ticket which covers three of the houses (Shakespeare's Birthplace, Hall's Croft, Nash's House and New Place) and the cost for this is £12.50 for adults, £8 for children and £11.50 for concessions.
Hall's Croft is the early 17th Century Jacobean home of Susanna (Shakespeare's daughter) and Dr John Hall, his son-in-law, who was a wealthy physician. It houses a collection of apothecary's equipment and books, in keeping with John's occupation and there are also gardens which grow some of the fragrant herbs which were used by Dr Hall in his remedies.
There is currently a special display called A History of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Fifty Objects (which runs until 31 December 2011) at both Hall's Croft and Nash's House, which celebrates the 50th birthday of the RSC. This includes costumes and costume designs including David Tennant's costume from Hamlet and Patrick Stewart's armour from Antony and Cleopatra. There was a whole room in Hall's Croft devoted to the display and at the far wall are mannequins wearing some of the costumes. I was most interested in David Tennant's which is a modern day red patterned T-shirt and jeans, but it's still something he wore! There are more traditional and ornate costumes on show though.
Hall's Croft is a more impressive house than the rather disappointing Nash's Place. It has a lovely little Shakespeare statue inside the house, some pretty pottery and a huge kitchen hearth. For some reason, I find the old bedrooms especially fascinating and in this house, they also have a tiny baby's crib alongside the larger bed.
There is a pretty garden towards the back of the house, although it isn't as impressive as at the other Shakespeare houses we visited. It does have another of the Shakespearean-themed statues though and there are also toilets there, which were clean. The gift shop is once again a good mixture of souvenirs to suit different price ranges, although I resisted the temptation to buy anything.
After having visited all five houses in five days, we were maybe a little Shakespeare weary by this time, but Hall's Croft and Nash's House were slightly disappointing. I think my favourite places to visit were Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's Farm, as the cottage is beautiful and the farm is very interesting. However, I love my Shakespeare and I am interested in English History, so I am pleased we made the effort to visit them all.
If you have young children, these attractions are not really going to hold their interest for long. Mary Arden's Farm will, as it has the animals and is very child-friendly, but the houses and gardens will be rather boring and you will find it hard to get buggies up the rickety old stairs which are part of all these houses. Older children who know who Shakespeare is will be more interested, but leave the little ones with their grandparents if you can. We visited them as a couple and enjoyed the experience.
This house was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1949 and was opened to the public a couple of years later after some repair work and refurbishment was completed. It is believed that the house was built for the physician John Hall and his wife Susanna (who happened to be Shakespeare's' daughter). They lived here for a few years before William's death in 1616 when they took over the residence in New Place.
Our tour bus dropped us off virtually outside the house, which is very wide and although it doesn't have the quaint cottage appeal of Ann Hathaway's Cottage it is quite attractive in its own way. What was possibly once a white wall with black beans is now weather worn and dirty beige colour, with greyish black beams; but in saying this it did have a certain appeal to it.
After locating the entrance we entered the building, but this time I am wise and I keep my camera in my pocket. As nothing has been mentioned to my hubby about the taking of photos, and I did see another lady snapping away, I took my camera back out in the first room, but I did take the flash off to protect the furniture. Happy as Larry now as I have space to move around and I have my camera with me, I start to enjoy the experience clicking away giving me lovely pictures to go along with my memories of the visit. I do feel a little guilty through as if I am being a naughty girl, maybe that's because of the previous properties we had visited having a no photo policy.
According to the guide book the first rooms we visited were the entrance hall and parlour; I do remember a couple of things that really stood out for me in this room, one was a very decorative high chair, made of ash dating from the early 17th century; just behind the high chair was a large oil painting of a family sitting saying grace before their meal, this was painted by Anthonius Claeissins around 1585. There was also a very large brick fireplace in this room which really stood out for me.
Moving from here we went through a small passageway that led to the consulting room display where you could see some of the items used to store and make the medicines used around Hall's time as a doctor. As you move through to the kitchen you saw a wonderful large table which looked very thick and sturdy and dates back to the 17th century; they had a couple of platters displayed on it which they filled with very modern potpourri, this along with the flowers and herbs which you could see hanging from the ceiling were used not only for their normal uses in cooking but also for their fragrance as remember people didn't wash much in these days. Along the lovely fireplace was a pulley system which was used to help moving pots and cooking over the open fire.
As you reach the stairway there was a large portrait of a Mother and Child at the bottom dating from 1627 it is believed to have been painted by the Dutch artist Nicholoes Eliasz Pickenoy. I found the banister fairly chunky and plain, I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn't' more ornate to go with some of the other items displayed.
Upstairs you got to see the principal bedroom, which has been dressed a little like a museum piece; there was a laminated diagram of the room, with all 23 items which were displayed listed with a description of each item. There were a couple of items that stood out for us, one was a 'close stool' which was English and dated back to around the 17th century; it is a small chest with a lid and a removable stool pan (a very early toilet); we both thought how it looked like a record player the way it was displayed. The carved cradle looked very pretty, but this was a 17th century reproduction.
The 'tester bed' were very common place during this period of history and this one dates back to the 16th century and is English, a tester bed is a four poster bed with a ceiling (or tester). Also on this floor was an exhibition of Dr Hall's work where you saw items of torture, oops sorry I meant medical implements used during this time.
I do also like the way they put red glowing lights under the fires to make them look like they were working and this only went to build on the atmosphere. There was one section of the upstairs that was under renovation so we could not enter to take a look in there. After we finished looking around the upstairs we went back down the stairs with the intention of looking at the gardens, but we took the wrong turn and ended up going through the gift shop which was well stocked with Shakespearean memorabilia. As you leave the shop you enter the café and then out to the front of the building. We didn't use the café, as we realised that we had take a wrong turn and could not get back into the shop from there, so we had to walk back around to the main entrance again to get the gardens. This was ok as we still had our tickets which entitles you to visit the house and gardens as many times as you like over the next 12 months.
Going back in we found the correct door and went outside to look at the beautiful garden. It was very large with lovely mowed lawns, modern art sculptures and beautiful flowers and hedges; there was also a large Mulberry Tree which seems to be very popular in the homes connected with William Shakespeare. As you can expect as this was a doctors house, there were many herbs planted as they would have been used to create his medicines and potions.
There was seating around the garden and a large patio area around the rear of the house. At the time of our visit a lot of the patio area was taken up with scaffolding for the renovation work that was underway.
If you look closely at the beams around the house you will see the carpenters numbers written on them, this shows that it was an early pre-fabricated building and the beams would have been numbered and put together like a jigsaw or an MFI piece of furniture.
Disabilities - during our visit we only noticed that wheelchair access was available on the lower level and there did not appear to be any access to top floor.
Hall's Croft is one of the three town houses which can be visited and is to be found in the centre of Stratford on Old Town. You can use any of the main car parks and then walk through to it or you can go on the tour bus at a small cost.
Looking at the map the nearest Disabled parking is at Sheep Street
Address for Sat Nav is
Throughout June and August it is open between 0930hrs and 1700hrs, except for Sundays when it opens at 1000hrs.
During April to May and Sept to October it is open between 1100hrs to 1700hrs and finally between November and March it opens 1100hrs to 1600hrs daily.
You can buy tickets just for this house, but your best value is when you buy the 5 house tickets or the complete bus tour along with the houses.
Hall's Croft only ticket prices
Adult - £3.75
Child - £1.75 (ages between 5 and 16yrs)
Concession prices are £3.00
Family Tickets - £10.00 (which is for 2 adults and up to 3 children)
Shakespeares Birthplace Trust tickets for the 5 houses
Adult - £19.00
Child - £12.00
Concession - £17.00
Family Ticket- £49.00
Although I am glad that I have seen this house, it is not one of my favourites, I much prefer Mary Arden's Farm and Shakespeare's Birthplace for things to see and do. I wouldn't go out of my way to see this again, but as we bought the bus tour tickets with the houses included it was worth a visit and like I said I am glad we did, as I do love old houses and I love to look out for bits of architecture and the little things like the beams being numbered etc, it tells you so much of our wonderful history. If you do go to visit here then I recommend that you do it as part of the 5 houses ticket and not just the one on its own.
Many thanks for reading
I've worked in the NHS for 5 years, but barely get to speak to, let alone touch, patients. The management at Hall's Croft are a lot more trusting. Within 10 minutes of entering I was diagnosing and performing MUAs without the A which is basically just an M. But let's start at the beginning.
Hall's Croft is a house in Stratford. One of the Shakespeare properties, it was the home of Shakespeare's daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. We went after a visit to Holy Trinity church, just down the street, and appeared to be the first visitors of the day. Entrance to Hall's Croft is available with either the Town Houses ticket, or the 5 House Ticket. The minimum cost is £12.50, but this does include more than one property.
Having previously visited both Shakespeare's Birthplace and Anne Hathaway's Cottage the first things I noticed about this place were the fact we were given a written information sheet that covered each room, and how spacious said rooms were. The house spans two floors with your typical set up of parlour, kitchen, bedrooms and so on, with the addition of various quasi-medical items, such as a bottle marked 'Phlegm' sitting atop the dining table. Upstairs there are further displays, and an interactive children's play area where I cured a Teddy using just a stethoscope and a careful pat on the back, and reassembled a skeleton using a few little things I learnt in GCSE Biology.
The house was an informative mix of medical instruments and artefacts, and furnishings from the era including some interesting and clearly expensive paintings: the difference in value of the contents of here compared to other properties was clear. The printed info sheet was good, but my mother said on her last visit they'd had an excellent guide accompany them round, explaining the hidden significance of the rooms, so it was a shame this wasn't available on the day we went.
Once we'd explored the house, we continued outside where we wandered through the beautifully maintained city style gardens - with sundial, herb garden and pretty arbours. There is only really one path through the garden, but we took out time and enjoyed sitting out in the sun for a bit.
The property has a shop and a cafe attached. In the former we bought a guide book to all the houses - going for the peculiarly cheaper German version rather than the more expensive English edition - and a few gifts. All the gift shops have pretty much the same things at the same prices, including those in the town centre, so it felt more fun to buy our souvenirs directly from one of the Shakespeare properties rather than from a generic chain store. The cafe was deserted, though one other group had arrived at the house by the time we were leaving: while I think 10am is verging on late for somewhere to open, clearly the other tourists in town like to waste their mornings sleeping rather than exploring.
I liked this house because it offered something a little different from the other houses. The link to Shakespeare himself might not have been as wonderfully clear, but combined with, say, the Birthplace, Hall's Croft gave a good illustration of Tudor life, and early medicine.
Recommended, since you'll no doubt have paid for a multi-house ticket anyway.
Hall's Croft is the home of William Shakespeare's daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall, a respected doctor and townsman. It is the first house we visited on our weekend in Stratford Upon Avon, as part of the Shakespeare's houses and gardens package, managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. We paid £16 to visit all five houses (I believe this is now £17) last autumn. It costs £3.75 for an adult to visit this house individually. When we arrived the helpful assistant on the desk explained about the good value of the Five House tickets and we went with this. You can also buy a Town House ticket which allows you to visit the three central houses actually based in Stratford Upon Avon, and it appears there is now also a Four House Ticket.
The house himself was built in 1613, and the Hall's (including only daughter Elizabeth) resided here for only three years, until Shakespeare died and they moved to his old home. There is a guidebook available, and you cannot take photos inside the house (I am sure this is only so you buy the guidebook!) but you are given a simple handout so that you can find your way round the house and have a rough idea what you are supposed to be looking at. The house contains early seventeenth century furniture and paintings, but it is unclear whether they are actually belongings of the Hall's or just representative of the period. In one room, however, are Dr Hall's actual medical notes, various implements, jars and potion pots as would have been used by a doctor during these times, which make the house a bit more different. Since the Hall's time the house has been modified slightly, but was always a popular and sought after residence due to the Shakespeare connection.
One of my favourite parts of the house is the gardens, they are not large but pleasant to walk around, there is a sun dial, an arbour and a herb garden. It is very tranquil here and I enjoyed sitting here briefly. The house is having some restorative work being done on its roof, which ruins the look of the back of the house slightly, but otherwise the house looks and feels very authentic. To be honest, the house's connection to Shakespeare is tenuous, but has its own appeal if you are interested in the time of the Stuarts or historical medical practices.
The house is based on Old Town (that's the road name) just five minutes from the centre of the town, close to the river and Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare and his wife are buried. If you are visiting the area I would say this is well worth a visit. It won't take long - maybe 30-45 minutes, In addition there is a fair sized gift shop and a café. There are toilets (I didn't visit) including ones suitable for disabled visitors. The gardens and ground floor would be suitable for wheelchair users although floors are uneven in places, but there is no upstairs access for wheelchairs. The house is open all year round, except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but hours are reduced in the winter.
One of the 5 Shakespeare properties in Stratford Upon Avon.
We bought the 5 property pass, taking advantage of an online discount it cost £15 (approx) to be able to see all 5 and it can be used as many times as you like in the following year after purchase.
This is in the town centre, withinn walking distance (about 5mins) from the Birthplace property. It was owned by Shakespeare's daughter, Susannah, and her husband Dr John Hall, they were married in 1607.
Nowadays this propery is home to a colleciton of 16th and 17th century fine art, including both paintings and furniture. Additionally, there is an exhibition about the Doctor himself and varies medical practices from his era.
This is quite a small property and does not take long to walk around. Not one I would visit on its own but it definately adds to the whole experience when having a Shakespeare day.
We were at the property for no more than 40mins and we did get to see everything. The staff were very friendly and helpful, very keen to share their knowledge with you and show you around.
Well worth a visit if tracing the life of the Bard.