Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Here we go round the Mulberry Tree
Nash's House & New Place (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Member Name: arnoldhenryrufus
Nash's House & New Place (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Advantages: A wonderful historic building and well preserved .
Disadvantages: Cannot totally cater to disabilities
~~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
Summary: A wonderful historic building and well preserved .