The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the world’s leading charity in promoting the works, life and times of William Shakespeare. The Trust offers a unique Shakespeare centered experience with outstanding archive and library collections, inspiring educational and literary event programs and five wonderful houses all directly relating to Shakespeare. As an independent charity the Trust receives no public subsidy or direct government funding. The Trust depends entirely on income generated through their supporters: their visitors, volunteers, donors and Friends.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s History
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was formed in 1847 following the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace as a national memorial.

The role of the Trust grew with the purchase in 1876 of Shakespeare’s New Place estate, comprising the site of Shakespeare’s grand final home and Nash’s House (the home of Thomas Nash and Shakespeare’s grand-daughter Elizabeth).

The Trust purchased Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the girlhood home of Shakespeare’s wife, in 1892 and Mary Arden’s House was purchased in 1930.

The last house to be acquired was Hall’s Croft, the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, physician Dr John Hall, in 1949.

In 1964 to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth the Trust threw open the doors of its new headquarters and study facility, the Shakespeare Centre.  This distinctive building provides a home for the Trust’s extensive Shakespeare Centre library and archive (including the RSC archive). The second part of this project, an extension including facilities for the Trust's educational and cultural work and a visitor centre for Shakespeare’s Birthplace, was added in 1981.

In addition to the Shakespeare Houses, the Trust cares for Harvard House on behalf of the Harvard House Memorial Trust.

Terms of use

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has graciously contributed images under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 4.0 International license.  Visitors may download, link to and cite the images for personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the images, commercial or third party use, is strictly prohibited. Visitors must contact the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to request additional use, at:

Documents contributed by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

October 2, 1556
At Stratford’s court leet - originally a manorial court with delegated authority in minor criminal matters –  held on October 2, 1556, the jury reported two recent purchases by John Shakespeare.
June 17, 1556
On June 17, 1556, Thomas Such brought a case against John Shakespeare in Stratford’s court of record for the recovery of £8.
June 2, 1557
In the autumn of each year, at Stratford’s court leet – originally a manorial court with delegated authority in minor criminal matters – officials were elected to assist the bailiff in the governance of the town.
September 30, 1558
John Shakespeare was elected constable of Stratford-upon-Avon, as shown here, on September 30, 1558. One of the constables’ main duties was to oversee the watch “for the good governement of the Towne” (Minutes and Accounts, i, p.
September 15, 1558
Joan, John and Mary Shakespeare’s first child, was baptized on September 15, 1558, according to the Holy Trinity Church parish register. Next to the entry, an “X” added by a later hand highlights its significance.