To go or not to go? That is the question!
Today (10/3/12) I visited Shakespeare’s house in Stratford for the first time. Having been to Anne Hathaway’s cottage and Mary Arden’s farm in 2011, I had expected to be impressed, as indeed I had been when seeing the other properties. Unfortunately though, I have to report that I was pretty disappointed. The house, in my opinion, was more like a theme park, than the historic attraction I had hoped for.
As you walked around the exhibits there were far too many of the following references “a detailed replica”, “thought to be” “could have been” “from the time”. As far as I could see there was very little that could actually be proved to be associated with the great playwright (although the actual property is known to have been in the Shakespeare family).
On display upstairs in the house is an iron locking mechanism for a door that was known to have been taken off the house, but there was an explanatory note that stated it was made after the times of the Shakespeare family – what was the point of it being on display then was my question? There was a facsimile of the front page of a visitors’ book, not the actual book, there were books in cabinets like those Shakespeare was thought to have used etc. The walls around the house were covered in painted canvass, nailed to hidden trellis type frames, depicting decorating styles of the time – to be honest all a bit naff!
In answer to my question posed in the title above – I’d say “not to go”! I accept that Shakespeare's birthplace is historically important and that the man is a national treasure but you might as well just look at the outside of the house from the street. Only the outside is authentic anyway! It’s not exactly cheap to get in to, there’s not that much to see and it’s small and full of tourists.
Save your money and spend it elsewhere is my view. The other properties though are worth taking some time to see and the farm is particularly good. Alternatively watch a play at the newly re-commissioned theatre. You'd never forget that experience or regret the expense!
Back to Reviews and Recommendations Home