New Place

Coordinates: 52°11′27″N 1°42′27″W / 52.1907°N 1.7076°W / 52.1907; -1.7076
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New Place
New Place sketched by George Vertue from contemporary descriptions when he visited Stratford-upon-Avon in 1737
General information
AddressChapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
OS grid referenceSP 201 548
ClientSir Hugh Clopton
OwnerShakespeare Birthplace Trust (site)

New Place was William Shakespeare's final place of residence in Stratford-upon-Avon. He died there in 1616. The whole building was demolished by Francis Gastrell, vicar of Frodsham, Cheshire, in 1759. It was never rebuilt and only the foundations remain.

Though the house no longer exists, the site is owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which maintains it as a specially-designed garden for tourists.

Early history[edit]

The three storied house stood on the corner of Chapel Street and Chapel Lane, and was apparently the second largest dwelling in the town. The current site of New Place was initially within the plot of an Iron Age farmstead sometime around 700 BC – 43 AD, as indicated by pottery that also dates to the same time period. New Place was built atop the site of a former 13th-century timber building in 1483 by Sir Hugh Clopton, a wealthy London mercer and Lord Mayor. Built of timber and brick (then an innovation in Stratford) it had ten fireplaces, five handsome gables, and grounds large enough to incorporate two barns and an orchard.[1]

In 1496 Sir Hugh Clopton left New Place in his will to his great-nephew William Clopton I ('my cousin William Clopton') and the male heirs of the lordship of Clopton.[2] In his will William Clopton I (d. 29 May 1521) granted his wife, Rose (d. 17 August 1525)[3] a life interest in the property, with the reversion after her death to his son, William Clopton II. When John Leyland visited in 1540, he described New Place as a "praty house of Bricke and tymbre wherm he (ie Hugh Clopton) lived in his latter dayes and dyed". In November 1543, William Clopton II leased it for forty years to a surgeon, Thomas Bentley (d.1549), who left his wife, Anne, a life interest in the lease during her widowhood. Anne remarried, however, and after she became the wife of Richard Charnock, William Clopton II retook possession of New Place. By his wife Elizabeth Grey, the daughter of Sir Edward Grey of Enville, Staffordshire, William Clopton II had a son, William Clopton III (1537–1592), to whom he left New Place by will in 1560. On 20 December 1563, hard-pressed for money to pay his sisters' marriage portions and continue travelling in Italy, William Clopton III sold New Place to William Bott, who had already resided in it for several years. In 1567 Bott sold New Place to William Underhill I (c. 1523 – 31 March 1570), an Inner Temple lawyer and clerk of assizes at Warwick, and a substantial property holder in Warwickshire.[4][5][6][7][8]

Sale to Shakespeare[edit]

The final concord (a conveyance in two parts) between William Shakespeare and Hercules Underhill, confirming Shakespeare's title to New Place, Michaelmas 1602

At his death in 1570, Underhill left New Place to his son, William Underhill II (d.1597), who in 1597 sold it to William Shakespeare for £60. He (William Underhill II) died two months later, and it emerged that he had been poisoned by his eldest son and heir, Fulke Underhill. According to some sources, Fulke Underhill died in May 1598 while still a minor and before the fact that he had murdered his father was discovered.[9][10][11] According to other sources, however, Fulke Underhill was hanged in 1599 for his father's murder and attainted for felony, whereby his property, including New Place, was forfeit to the crown.[12][7] In 1602 the Court of Exchequer appointed a commission to "obtain an account of the possessions of Fulke Underhill of Fillongley, county Warwick, felon, who had taken the life of his father, William Underhill, by poison".[9] When Fulke's younger brother, Hercules Underhill, came of age in 1602, his father's former properties were regranted to him, and he and Shakespeare negotiated a confirmation of the sale.[12][7][13]

After Shakespeare's death[edit]

In 1616 the house passed to his daughter Susanna Hall, and then his granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall, who had recently remarried after the death of her first husband, Thomas Nash, who had owned the house next door. After Elizabeth died, the house was returned to the Clopton family.

In 1702 John Clopton radically altered, or rebuilt, the original New Place – contemporary illustrations suggest the latter.[14] In 1756 then-owner Reverend Francis Gastrell (vicar of Frodsham, Cheshire[15]) having become tired of visitors, attacked and destroyed a mulberry tree in the garden said to have been planted by Shakespeare.[16] In retaliation, the townsfolk destroyed New Place's windows. Gastrell applied for local permission to extend the garden. His application was rejected and his tax was increased, so Gastrell retaliated by demolishing the house in 1759. This greatly outraged the inhabitants and Gastrell was eventually forced to leave town.[16]

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acquired New Place and Nash's House in 1876. Today the site of New Place is accessible through a museum that resides in Nash's House, the house next door.[17] The site received 109,452 visitors during 2018.[18]

Archaeological excavations[edit]

Excavations in the grounds of Nash's House were initially carried out in 1862 and January 1864 by James Halliwell-Phillipps but after the excavations were finished, the ruins were eventually covered up by a garden and further excavations carried out during 2010, 2011 and 2012 by Birmingham Archaeology, removing the garden from the site all together.[19] Archaeologists from Time Team visited the dig during 2011 and a special programme on the subject, "Searching for Shakespeare's House", was transmitted on 11 March 2012.[20] BBC One National Treasures broadcast a live programme from the site in August 2011.[21] Findings from the excavation indicated the presence of a Tudor structure but were inconclusive as to the ground plan of Shakespeare's original house.

Clay pipe fragments at Stratford-upon-Avon[edit]

Clay pipe fragments unearthed in recent years in Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon garden were found to possibly contain traces of cannabis, along with tobacco and camphor, based on the results of a study published in the South African Journal of Science.[22][23] This has fuelled speculation by some that Shakespeare may have possibly smoked cannabis,[24] which is known to have been used to treat certain medical conditions at the time by Elizabethans, as well as in the manufacture of materials such as sails, rope, and clothing, and may have also been used for purposes of pleasure.[22] The pipe fragments, however, could have belonged to any number of other persons besides the famous playwright, and cannot be definitively dated to the periods of his residency there as they could have been from the 18th century, around 200 years after Shakespeare's death.[22]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bryson, Bill (2008). Shakespeare: The World as a Stage. London: Harper Perennial. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-00-719790-3.
  2. ^ Lawrence 1890, p. 154.
  3. ^ Rose later married Sir Giles Greville; Fetherston 1877, p. 109.
  4. ^ Lawrence 1890, pp. 154–5.
  5. ^ Fetherston 1877, pp. 109–110.
  6. ^ Stopes 1907, pp. 228–30.
  7. ^ a b c Schoenbaum 1989, p. 17.
  8. ^ Palmer & Palmer 1981, p. 49.
  9. ^ a b Stopes 1907, p. 232.
  10. ^ Stopes 1916, pp. 260–1.
  11. ^ Phillips 2005, pp. 6–7.
  12. ^ a b Schoenbaum 1977, p. 234.
  13. ^ 'Final Concord Between William Shakespeare and Hercules Underhill', World Digital Library Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  14. ^ "The Second New Place". Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Retrieved 4 July 2023.
  15. ^ Furnival, F. J.; Delius, Nicolaus, eds. (1898). The Royal Shakespere. Vol. 1. London: Cassell. p. cxxvii. OCLC 1061936792.
  16. ^ a b Winterman, Denise (7 March 2013). "The man who demolished Shakespeare's house". BBC News.
  17. ^ British Archaeology The Voice of Archaeology in Britain and Beyond. Issue 113 July–August 2010
  18. ^ "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  19. ^ ""Digging deeper for Shakespeare", Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website". Archived from the original on 5 November 2011.
  20. ^ "Unofficial Time Team website". Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  21. ^ "BBC One National Treasures Live on location at the Dig for Shakespeare tonight". Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014.
  22. ^ a b c Smillie, Shaun (1 March 2001). "Did Shakespeare Puff on 'Noted Weed'?". National Geographic News. Archived from the original on 5 March 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  23. ^ Thackeray, F (2015). "Shakespeare, plants, and chemical analysis of early 17th century clay 'tobacco' pipes from Europe". South African Journal of Science. 111 (7/8): a0115. doi:10.17159/sajs.2015/a0115.
  24. ^ Mabillard, Amanda (20 August 2000). Did Marijuana Fuel Shakespeare's Genius?. Retrieved 8 August 2015. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)


Further reading[edit]

  • Bearman, Robert, 'Shakespeare's Purchase of New Place', Shakespeare Quarterly, Volume 63, Number 4, Winter 2012, pp. 465–86.
  • Watts, Percy R., 'Shakespeare's "Double" Purchase of New Place' (1947), 20 Australian Law Journal, pp. 330–36.

External links[edit]

Media related to New Place at Wikimedia Commons

52°11′27″N 1°42′27″W / 52.1907°N 1.7076°W / 52.1907; -1.7076