After you’ve learned about Shakespeare’s childhood, youth and the first few years of his married life, it’s time to head over to New Place, a short walk away from his birthplace.
He bought this place in 1597 and lived there until he passed away in 1616. At the time, it was the largest house in the borough and the only one with a courtyard. Shakespeare paid £120 for it; for comparison, the average yearly salary of a school teacher was £20.
95. How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins inclose!
That tongue that tells the story of thy days,
Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise;
Naming thy name blesses an ill report.
O, what a mansion have those vices got
Which for their habitation chose out thee,
Where beauty’s veil doth cover every blot
And all things turn to fair that eyes can see!
Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege;
The hardest knife ill us’d doth lose his edge.
137. Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold, and see not what they see?
They know what beauty is, see where it lies,
Yet what the best is take the worst to be.
If eyes, corrupt by over-partial looks,
Be anchor’d in the bay where all men ride,
Why of eyes’ falsehood hast thou forged hooks,
Whereto the judgement of my heart is tied?
Why should my heart think that a several plot
Which my heart knows the wide world’s common place?
Or mine eyes seeing this, say this is not,
To put fair truth upon so foul a face?
In things right true my heart and eyes have erred,
And to this false plague are they now transferred.
New Place has two garden areas: The Knot Garden, pictured above, and The Great Garden, a bit further ahead.
The house itself hosts an exhibition about the history of the building as well as Shakespeare’s time there. You can learn more about how his life had changed since becoming a famous writer, how his wife was living her life with a husband who commuted to London a lot and how his children’s childhood was very different from his own.
Don’t miss out on the viewing platform on the second floor.
Together with his birthplace, New Place will give you a good impression on how Shakespeare’s life was turned around after becoming the famous playwright we know him as today. 22 Chapel Street, CV37 6EP.