William Shakespeare, the most famous playwright in history, had a lavish home in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he spent his last years and wrote some of his final masterpieces. But the house, known as New Place, was demolished in 1759 by a spiteful owner who was fed up with the tourists and taxes. What happened to the house that Shakespeare built and lost?
New Place was a medieval house built in the 1480s by Sir Hugh Clopton, a wealthy London merchant and Lord Mayor. It was the second largest house in the town and had a large garden and orchard. Shakespeare bought it in 1597 for about £120, a considerable sum at the time. He renovated and expanded the house, adding a long gallery, a place to display art and entertain guests. He lived there with his family until his death in 1616.
The house was inherited by his daughter Susanna and then by his granddaughter Elizabeth, who died childless in 1670. The house passed through several owners until it was bought by Reverend Francis Gastrell in 1756. Gastrell was a clergyman who had little interest in Shakespeare or his legacy. He soon became annoyed by the taxes he had to pay for the house and the visitors who came to see it. He tried to stop people from entering the garden and even cut down a mulberry tree that was said to have been planted by Shakespeare himself.
But his most notorious act was to demolish the house in 1759. He claimed that he wanted to build a smaller one, but he never did. He left the site as a pile of rubble and moved away. The townspeople were outraged by his vandalism and some even attacked him and broke his windows. He was also fined for not paying the taxes on the house.
The site of New Place was later bought by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which maintains it as a specially-designed garden for tourists. The garden features sculptures inspired by Shakespeare’s plays and a bronze footprint of where the house once stood. Visitors can also see archaeological remains of the house that were uncovered during a recent excavation.
New Place was more than just a house for Shakespeare. It was a symbol of his success and status as a writer and a gentleman. It was also a place where he created some of his most enduring works, such as The Tempest, Macbeth, and King Lear. It is a shame that we can no longer see the house that Shakespeare built and lost, but we can still imagine how it looked and felt through his words and stories.
– New Place – Wikipedia, Wikipedia
– About Shakespeare’s New Place – Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
– Shakepseare’s New Place Home In Stratford: A Visitor’s Guide, No Sweat Shakespeare
– The man who demolished Shakespeare’s house – BBC News, 7 March 2013