The medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of iconic wordsmith William Shakespeare. Visitors can follow in the literary giant’s footsteps by exploring some of his homes and gardens—there are five in town, each offering a fascinating insight into Shakespeare’s life and works.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust owns and maintains five historic properties in Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Hall’s Croft, Mary Arden’s Farm, and Shakespeare’s New Place. Each is preserved in period-style and features a variety of permanent exhibitions, live shows, and family activities. You can purchase tickets for the individual attractions or get a Full Story ticket, which offers access to all five sights.
While you can visit four of the houses on foot, Mary Arden’s Farm is a short train ride away. Hop-on hop-off bus tours also link all five properties. To get to Stratford-upon-Avon itself, most visitors opt for a day trip from London. Full-day tours often combine nearby attractions such as Oxford, Warwick Castle, and the Cotswolds.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Shakespeare’s Houses and Gardens are a must for literature and history lovers.
- Full Story tickets offer unlimited access to all five attractions and are valid for 12 months.
- Cafés are located at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden’s Farm, and Hall’s Croft.
- All of the houses are accessible to wheelchair users, but due to the nature of the historic structures, some areas are not accessible.
How to Get There
Shakespeare’s Houses and Gardens are located in Stratford-upon-Avon, in central England. From London, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive northwest; direct trains from London’s Marylebone station to Stratford-upon-Avon take around two hours.
When to Get There
Though always popular, Shakespeare’s Houses and Gardens are most atmospheric during the summer, when the houses host a range of special events, reenactments, and family activities. Make an early start or stay overnight in Stratford-upon-Avon if you want to avoid the crowds, especially in July and August; typically tour buses from London don’t arrive until mid-morning. Note that Mary Arden’s Farm is closed from November to February.
What to See at Shakespeare’s Houses
The most popular of the five Shakespeare sights in Stratford-upon-Avon is Shakespeare’s Birthplace, where an impressive multimedia exhibition chronicles the life of the playwright. Highlights include a collection of his books and first editions, and a live theater where scenes from Shakespeare’s most famous plays are performed. Nearby, Hall’s Croft was the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr. John Hall. The childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, is known for its stunning flower gardens. And the New Place, which opened to the public in 2016, is where Shakespeare spent his later years, writing plays like The Tempest. Just outside of town is Mary Arden’s Farm, the former home of Shakespeare’s mother; the attraction hosts fun activities from blacksmith and falconry demonstrations to animal feeding and traditional craft-making workshops.