Heart of England What's On

Visit the Childhood Home of William Shakespeare's Mother

Mary Arden’s Farm — the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s mother in Stratford-upon-Avon — reopens for the 2020 season on Saturday, 14 March, with a series of new farm tours and more demonstrations of traditional Tudor crafts that will give visitors an insight into 16th century rural life.

Meet the resident Tudors as they go about their daily tasks on the farm and in the home, as Shakespeare’s mother would; learn about table manners and dining rituals; and find out about traditional crafts — enjoy demonstrations and even have a go yourself in one of the regular hands-on sessions throughout the year.

New for 2020 will be farm talks and mini tours with new farm manager Isabelle Butterworth, who will introduce the rare breed animals, including the newest arrivals, and demonstrate hand sheep shearing, hoof trimming, and donkey and pony grooming.

There will also be birds of prey displays*, the chance to try archery**, follow the woodland trail to the viewing tower to enjoy spectacular views across the 23-acre site, and enjoy the children’s outdoor play area and willow tunnel.

The farm team will also celebrate three special days in the Tudor calendar: Midsummer, 21 June; Lammas Day, the first wheat harvest of the year, 1 August; and Harvest, 27 September. Beekeeping was popular in the Tudor period, so they will also celebrate World Bee Day on 24 May.

The Arden family lived at the site in the first half of the 16th century. Mary lived there for the first 20 years of her life, before marrying John Shakespeare in 1557 and moving into Stratford-upon-Avon town. The site was purchased in the 1930s by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Abi Moore, Mary Arden’s Farm site manager, said, “Our resident Tudors give visitors a perfect opportunity to see for themselves what daily rural life was like in Tudor England for Mary Arden, Shakespeare’s mother. They can experience the sights, sounds and smells of the farm life that Mary grew up in before marrying and starting her own family in town.”

Tickets to Mary Arden’s Farm offer unlimited entry for the season at £15.50 for adults, £10.50 for children (under 3s go free) and £41.50 for families (2 adults and up to 4 children). It is open daily until Sunday, 1 November, see www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/mary-ardens-farm.

Notes to editors:

Mary Arden's Farm is accredited by The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), the leading conservation charity working to restore Britain’s native livestock breeds. The current livestock list includes the following rare breeds: Portland, Ryeland, Cotswold, Norfolk Horn, Wiltshire Horn sheep; English Longhorn, Gloucester and Hereford cattle; Mangalitsa, Oxford Sandy Black and Berkshire pigs; Arapawa and English goats; Farm Yard and Brecon Buff geese; Miniature Welsh Harlequin, Buff Orpington and Aylesbury ducks; Speckled Sussex, Silver Grey Dorking and Golden Campine chickens.

The farm is also a member of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, which is run by DEFRA (the department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to provide farmers and other land managers in England support to deliver environmental management on their land.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trusts also holds a Gold Food for Life Served Here Award from the Soil Association, which recognises restaurants and caterers who serve fresh food, which is free from controversial additives and better for animal welfare.

The Farm’s café offers a selection of fresh meals and snacks that have received a Gold standard Food for Life Award from the Soil Association. Enjoy sandwiches with artisan breads, Tudor-inspired specials and healthy children’s lunchboxes. Sample our organic meat fresh from the farm, or feel free to pack your own picnic and use our picnic tables around the site. Every meal or refreshment purchased helps us continue to care for and conserve Shakespeare’s family homes.

*Bird of prey displays will take place daily except Thursdays and Fridays outside of school holidays, and every day during school holidays.

** Archery will take place daily during school holidays except for October half term, an additional charge applies.