“ Where Shakespeare died. „
When my partner and I were recently in Stratford-upon-Avon, we visited all the five houses associated with William Shakespeare. These included the famous ones like Anne Hathaway's Cottage, but one I hadn't previously heard of was Nash's House and New Place.
Nash's House and New Place are in Stratford itself and situated at the postcode CV37 6EP, which is in walking distance of Hall's Croft, so it makes sense to do both on the same day, which we did. It is open daily except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Under fives are free. During the summer holidays, they also offer Family Archaeology activities.
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 and are priced at £12 for children and £17.50 for concessions. A Shakespeare's Birthplace Ticket (Shakespeare's Birthplace, Hall's Croft, Nash's House and New Place) is £12.50 for adults, £8 for children and £11.50 for concessions.
This is Thomas Nash's house, who was married to Elizabeth, Shakespeare's granddaughter. New Place is the site of William Shakespeare's house, his final home. He bought it in 1597 and lived there until his death in 1616. These are on the same site and a combined attraction, although most of the latter no longer exists.
Nash's House has some beautiful gardens which you can walk round. There is the Elizabethan Knot Garden and Great Garden, as well as the famous Mulberry tree, which is the grandchild of Shakespeare's original mulberry tree, so has a special protected status. This means they have to dig around it, even though it is probably on top of the remains of Shakespeare's house.
In some of the gardens, there are interesting statues based on the work of William Shakespeare. We spent quite some time looking at these and working out the relevant parts we recognised from the plays they were based on.
The Dig for Shakespeare project takes up a lot of space at the moment and you walk on bridges above it, so you can see the work that is being carried out there. It is a special archaeological dig trying to find out more about New Place and it is due to finish on October 30th. (Some finds from the 2010 Dig are in Nash's House on display.) The work is ongoing while you watch, which is interesting, as you can see what painstaking work it is. There are guides giving talks here too and we heard a very good and enthusiastic woman, who explained what was happening, what they hoped to find and what they had discovered so far. There is also an opportunity to try your hand at this in the sieving marquee if you wish.
Nash's House is one of the least impressive of the houses though and it doesn't take long to walk round. Probably my favourite bit of the interior was the display they had on there, which was entitled A History of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Fifty Objects. This is only open until 31st December 2011 at Hall's Croft and Nash's House and is celebrating the 50th birthday of the RSC. It includes various costume accessories and jewellery, including the crown from Henry VI and the jester's hat which was worn by David Tennant.
There are other rooms with various bits of furniture in and the general tone of how they would have looked in Shakespeare's time, but the rest of the house I found quite uninspiring. I found the gardens and the archaeological dig much more interesting.
There is a gift shop near the exit of the house, which has a good range of souvenirs to suit all tastes and prices.
Overall, the gardens and the dig are well worth a visit, but the house was probably my least favourite of all five attractions. The combined ticket made it worth the money, but if you are running out of time, you won't miss much if you can't get to Nash's House and New Place. You'd be better off visiting Anne Hathaway's Cottage instead.
~~Nash House and New Place~~
I love old historic buildings and I drag my poor husband around with me at every opportunity; he deserves a medal as I know he does not hold the same love for history and buildings as I do. On our two day stay in Stratford we decided to visit the five houses belonging to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Nash House and New Place is one of them.
Let us start with a little bit of information about the building itself; like all the five houses it was built from locally quarried stone at Wilmcote and it was the grey-blue variety of lias stone. The oak timber frame was taken from the woodlands in the ancient Forest of Arden. The houses were early prefabricated buildings, as carpenters would carve out the wooden frames which would then be put together on site. The craftsmanship from these times were magnificent considering the knowledge they had then and they still stand proud today 500 years later, I wonder if some of our modern buildings will stand the same test of time.
The earliest reference to Nash House I could find was dated 1540, so I know it was built before then, the Tudor style residence is remarkable to look at and it always amazes me how it has stood up to all the elements and wars that this country has seen in its lifetime.
Shakespeare bought the property as a retreat to get away from the hustle and bustle of London and the stresses of the theatre work there. He lived here for the last 18 years of his life in New Place which joined Nash House. Looking at an artist's impression the two homes would have stood side by side and shared the lovely gardens. Shakespeare passed away here on his 52nd birthday in April 1616 at New Place; it is also believed that a few years later his wife Anne spent her last days there too.
His grand-daughter Elizabeth Hall lived here with her first husband Thomas Nash and after his death she remarried her second husband John Barnard. After Elizabeth's death in 1670 the house returned to the ownership of the Clopton family; they made some considerable alterations and opened the house up to the public for viewing. Sadly nearly a century later and it is now owned by the rather eccentric Reverend Francis Gastrell, who took an axe to the Mulberry Tree, which was believed to have been planted by Shakespeare himself; this caused unrest amongst the locals. Gastrell was sick and tired of all the tourists, but the town's folk were so incensed by what he did they smashed all the windows in the house. After this and the high tax bills he received for the house, he decided to pull New Place down to the ground; this incensed the local people of Stratford even more and they drove him out of the town banning him and his namesakes from ever returning to Stratford again.
The house is now owned by the trust and has been decorated to show how it would have looked in the Jacobean times; it does house some beautiful carved furniture and paintings.
The original New Place foundations are still there, but they now have a beautiful garden planted around them, they even have some Mulberry trees, one being a direct descendent of the original Mulberry Tree which Shakespeare planted, or so they say.
Our tour bus dropped us off right outside the house and straight away I was taking pictures. Firstly I took on e of the large Tudor style building which was the Falcon pub, then the church (The Guild Chapel) and finally as we went round the corner it was posing for pictures at the front of the house. I was really excited and looking forward to going inside with my camera ready to build up memories for my holiday album.
The outside of the house has colourful hanging baskets and tubs all in full bloom, making the Tudor style building with its black and white beamed frontage and leaded windows stand out.
I entered the building full of excitement and whilst my darling husband showed them our tickets I got my camera out to take a photo of a lovely fireplace; before I got the chance to press the button I was told that I could not take photo's; so very disappointed I put my camera away and we moved on in to the next room. This room had a large oak table with two benches either side, it looked very heavy and typical of the period which they have dressed the house in. There is a guide there who gives you a brief history of Nash house, New Place and the gardens; this takes around 10-15 minutes to complete and you are then left on your own to explore the house and gardens. At the end of the parlour there was a small room, the estate used this room for children to sit at a small table and draw etc.
Upstairs in the house was not dressed, but it was used to display an exhibition which showed some display cabinets with antiques displayed, these included some boxes and trinkets allegedly made from the original Mulberry Tree that Shakespeare had planted. I don't know if it was because I was disappointed in not being allowed to take photo's (even with my flash off), but I didn't seem to enjoy this house as much as the others. I do wish they would allow photographs, even if they made you pay a small charge, I would still be happy to pay for the privilege; I also purchase a guide book whenever I visit a period house, the one here cost £3.95 but it did cover all five homes so you only needed to buy one.
We left the house and explored the gardens, the first one we came to was straight outside the door, it was the garden that was planted around the foundations of the demolished house New Place, there were signs where bits of the old foundations are left exposed; from here you are lead into another garden called the Knot Garden, which was created around 1919-1920 and it is set into four sections which are referred to as knots; they grow herbs and flowers in each knot. At the centre is a small water feature; it all looks very colourful and pretty. You can go forward from here through a trellis-work tunnel which leads you through a turnstile and into the Great Garden. This is a very large garden like a small park really and this is open to the public and free to enter. It is said that it has the daughter and grand-daughter Mulberry trees descended from the original one which Shakespeare planted. Each of the trees has a plaque telling you about them; also as you walk around this garden you come across some modern artwork depicting Shakespeare's plays. Although I am not always a great fan of modern artwork I did find these fascinating and rather attractive in a strange kind of way. This is where we ended our visit; there was a little tea-room next to the gift shop, but we didn't partake in either, we just enjoyed the gardens and went outside to take a quick look at the lovely church I noticed on the way in.
~~How To Get There~~
We used the City-sightseeing bus to get us here as this took away the worry of parking and also the long walking from the town, as I am not as fit as I was. If you do decide to go by car then you will have to use one of the few car parks that Stratford offer, then you either catch the tour bus like we did, or walk through the town and over to Chapel Street for Nash House; there is disabled parking close by in Sheep Street. Wheelchair use is limited within the house, and you have to go out of the house and around the street, to get to the Great Garden. The nearest car park is the multi story car park off Rother Street.
~~Opening times for 2009~~
November to March - it is open 1100hrs to 1600hrs daily.
Summer months and Half term in February - open between 1000hrs and 1700hrs daily.
~~Prices for 2010~~
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
This is really worthwhile but you may wish to consider the bus tour as the ticket will only cost you £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.
The Shakespeare multi tickets also give you free entry into the Shakespeare Found exhibition where you will get to see a true image of William Shakespeare which has been discovered and has been proven authentic.
Although I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other properties I am glad I have seen it, but the highlight of the visit for me had to be the beautiful gardens, if we had a longer visit here I would of happily taken a picnic and sat and enjoyed the beauty and the atmosphere of these gardens. The Great Garden especially, you can imagine the peace and tranquillity such a garden would have bought to Shakespeare after the busy life he led as a playwright in the City of London. I would most definitely recommend it for a visit, but if I do return I will have to plan my stay a little better, giving myself a little more time to savour the moment. If you decide to visit the houses I would make this one the first that you visit, leaving the better ones to the end; I feel that you will appreciate it more if you do it that way.
Thank you for reading
Nash's House and New Place were the second of the five houses associated with William Shakespeare that we visited during our weekend in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Tickets can be purchased for all five houses for £17 per adult and this is valid for a year (which is what we did), alternatively you can visit just the three town-based houses for £11.50. To visit Nash's House and New Place alone would cost you £3.75. Children and concessions are cheaper and there is also the option of family tickets. It is open all year round, but opening hours are limited in winter.
Nash's House was owned by Thomas Nash, who was the first husband of Shakespeare's grand-daughter Elizabeth Hall. It is based on Chapel Street just beyond the High Street so is only a few minutes walk from the centre of town or from Hall's Croft where Elizabeth lived briefly as a child. Next door to it is New Place where Shakespeare lived from 1597 (when not in London) until he died in 1616. It remained in the family until 1674 when Elizabeth's second husband died (she had no children in either marriage). Sadly it no longer exists having been pulled down by an angry subsequent owner in 1759, fed up with tourists coming around to gawp at his property. In its place is a lovely but compact garden, and some foundations of New Place are visible.
When you arrive your ticket is checked and you are given a piece of paper so that you can find pieces of note within the house. You can purchase a guidebook to all five houses if you wish, which would have been more informative. Nash's House is furnished in a typical 16th and 17th Century style, but the furniture, whilst original, wasn't that actually owned by the family, just used to give a representation of how the house may have looked. Upstairs is a small, but interesting exhibition that features Stratford-Upon-Avon's town history, containing documents, pictures and artefacts.
When you step out the side door of Nash's House you will walk into a small, but picturesque garden that is on the site of New Place. The garden itself is only about 90 years old, but was designed to appear as a typical late Elizabethan style garden as was typical of Shakespeare's time. At the back is another garden, the Great Garden which is free to visit and was once part of the land Shakespeare owned with New Place. You can access it from New Place (although the gate was broken when we visited) or from a gateway on Chapel Lane which borders New Place on its other side. You cannot get into New Place or Nash's House from the Great Garden. It is worth a stroll around the Great Garden (which is like a small park) in pleasant weather as there are a number of statues that have been created to represent some of Shakespeare's plays. It is quite good fun to try and guess which play is being represented. There is also a mulberry tree alleged to have grown from a cutting of a tree originally planted by Shakespeare here also.
Connections to Shakespeare here are tenuous; after all he never actually lived in Nash's House, only his grand-daughter, and she didn't marry Thomas Nash until over ten years after Shakespeare died. This isn't that clear at the house itself, something I checked into afterwards. In Shakespeare's lifetime the house may not even have been owned by Nash's family (there is no mention of it in his father's will according to the brief research I did), just some unknown people, we don't even know if Shakespeare ever went inside! However it is ideally situated to the now non-existent New Place which Shakespeare spent his final years at. There is very little of Shakespeare's life to be learnt at these properties, it is more a representation of a historical house and a small but informative town museum. Still worth a visit for these points alone, but true Shakespeare aficionados may be disappointed.
Another in the series of 5 properties forming the Shakespeare experience in Stratford. Nash's House and New Place is situated on Chapel Street in the centre of Stratford. It is within walking distance of the other two Shakespeare properties (Croft's Hall and the Birthplace).
It was owned by Thomas Nash, the first husband of Shakespeare's granddaughter. Next to the existing property is the site of New PLace, the property purchased by Shakespeare in 1597 and where he later died. This property has sadly been demolished so only the site and some foundations remain.
It is a brick and timber house furnished with a vast amount of impressive 16th and 17th century fine art.
It does not take long to go round the house, we were there about 30 minutes but it is worth taking the time to look at it. The staff and very knowledgable and willing to show you around and tell you more about the life and times of Shakespeare.
There ae some lovely gardens at the property with an ancient Mulberry Tree, it is saidto have been from a cutting taken by Shakespeare himself. There are lots of plants and sculptures that area really nice to wander round, especially on a warm autumnal day.
Although a small property it does add to the whole Shakespeare experience and I would recommend visiting it to make the most of the whole Shakespeare attraction.