The building that once stood on the site of Shakespeare’s New Place has complex history since it was first built in 1496, but is best known as the home that William Shakespeare bought in 1597.
Shakespeare paid around £120 for it and at the time it was the second largest house in the town. After Shakespeare’s death it passed down to his daughter then his granddaughter, after which it left the family and was eventually demolished by Francis Gastrell in 1759.
The Trust acquired New Place, the Great Garden and the adjoining property, Nash’s House, the home of Shakespeare’s granddaughter, from prominent antiquarian and Life Trustee James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps. Halliwell-Phillipps’ involvement with the establishment of the Trust and its collection was crucial, and in 1861 he has set up a fund for the purpose of acquiring New Place. This he did, and in 1876 the ownership was transferred to the Trust.
Numerous archaeological digs have taken place at on the site which have helped us to understand the layout of the buildings that once stood there, and archaeological finds from these investigations are now in our collection. Documents chart its ownership, it’s use and its alteration from Shakespeare’s purchase, through to its acquisition by the Trust
The site of New Place, the Great Garden and Nash’s House have seen a number of interpretations and uses over the years, with 2016 seeing an exciting project to completely reimagine the site for the future. Images in our collection can help to illustrate this story, from the Great Garden being home to a bowling green, Nash’s House as a town museum, and a long forgotten Theatre at the foot of the garden.
The site has long been a site of tourism for Shakespeare enthusiasts, diaries, letters and postcards tell of people visiting the site to feel a connection to the only home Shakespeare ever purchased and our collection demonstrates this fascination through archives, art, images and souvenirs.