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The Least Inspiring of the Shakespeare Houses...
Nash's House & New Place (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Member Name: karenuk
Nash's House & New Place (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Advantages: Pretty gardens, interesting archaeological dig, costume display
Disadvantages: Not much else to see in the house itself.
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.
Summary: One of the less interesting of the Shakespeare attractions - but visit if you have time.
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