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Saving Shakespeare's Birthplace

3. The auction catalogue

Though some people viewed the Birthplace as a shrine to Shakespeare, by 1847 it had fallen into disrepair.

The auction catalogue described it as follows:

The lower Room presents the appearance of a Butcher’s Shop of Two Centuries back…                                                                          above are Three Chambers, the one in front… being the all engrossing subject of interest, where the great poet of nature first saw the light…   The Walls and Ceilings are covered with countless Autographs…


The adjoining Swan and Maidenhead public house, for sale as part of the property, included:

A Carriage Yard, … Cooking Kitchen; Brew-house, Stabling for Twelve horses … and Two Piggeries.


Auctioneer's catalogue, 1847

This is the auctioneer's own copy of the catalogue created for the sale of Shakespeare's Birthplace. As well as the Birthplace itself, other items listed for sale at the auction included the house visitor books from the 1820s, 30s and 40s, carved wooden furniture and several busts of Shakespeare.

See below for more images from the catalogue 


Title page of the auction catalogue, 1847

Featuring images of:

Shakespeare's Birthplace (centre, top)

William Shakespeare, Holy Trinity Church and Shakespeare's patron the Earl of Southampton (left side, top to bottom)

Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and playwright Ben Jonson (right side, top to bottom), and the Globe Theatre (centre, bottom).

Shakespeare's Birthplace, depicted in the pages of the auction catalogue of 1847

Artist unknown


Shakespeare's birthroom, depicted in the auction catalogue of 1847

Artist unknown

Ann Court, widow of the house owner Thomas Court, is showing a visitor the birthroom as she frequently did prior to her death in 1846. He is signing one of the house visitor books.