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Saving Shakespeare's Birthplace

12. Inside the auction room, 16 September 1847

The bidding for the Birthplace began at £1500, then £2,000 was offered by Mr Butler of Clapton. This rose to £2,100 taking it well beyond the committees’ price range. Then a letter was handed to auctioneer Edmund Robins offering £3000 for the property; in a surprise bid, the joint Stratford-upon-Avon and London committees had decided to offer far more money than they actually had, gambling on the belief that they would soon raise the rest in a rush of support following the sale.

Robins asked if there were any higher offers then, after a few tense moments, the property was sold to the committees, amidst 'a loud, hearty and prolonged cheer(London Illustrated News, Sept 25 1847). 



The auction room, 16 September 1847
From a sketch by P W Archer                                                                                                                      Printed by London Illustrated News, 25 September 1847


This illustration of the auction room features handwritten notes listing who was present. It gives a real flavour of the atmosphere on the day.


1. Mr Robins, the auctioneer                                                                                                                            2. Mr Cunningham, Treasurer of the London Committee                                                                        3. Mr Charles Knight, Shakespeare scholar and member of the London Committee                            4. Mr Tomlins, Honorary Secretary of the London Committee                                                                5. Mr George Jones, founder of the People's Central Committee of the Shakespeare Memorial Fund                                                                                                                                                                      6. Mr T Purland, member of the London Committee                                                                                    7. Mr J P Collier, Shakespeare scholar and member of the London Committee                                    8. Mr Fairholt, member of the London Committee                                                                                      9. Mr Geo. Goodwin                                                                                                                                            10. Mr Geo. Daniel                                                                                                                                            11. Three Mr Courts - the heirs of Thomas Court and current proprietors of the Birthplace, they stood to benefit from the sale                                                                                                                            12. Mr Kenny Meadows                                                                                                                                        13. Mr Geo. Cruikshank                                                                                                                                  14. Mr Hine                                                                                                                                                        15. Mr J Archer                                                                                                                                                  16. Mrs Fletcher of Gloucester - she appears to have been the only woman in the room