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Hall's Croft (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Member Name: karenuk
Hall's Croft (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Advantages: Pretty house, pretty garden, historical interest, RSC costume display.
Disadvantages: Not good for young children.
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.
Summary: An interesting visit for its Shakespeare's connections.
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