If you head north, walking along the towpath of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal, in just over an hour you reach the small village of Wilmcote. Signposted in the village is Mary Arden’s farmhouse. Up until the year 2000, it was believed this was Mary Arden’s house, however it was subsequently found to belong to a neighbour of the Arden family. By a happy coincidence, the Shakespeare Trust had purchased a nearby tudor farmhouse, which turned out to be the real Mary Arden farmhouse.
In 1557, Mary married John Shakespeare, a glover, from Stratford-upon-Avon. They had eight children, William being born in 1564. It’s quite remarkable that his mothers house survives from that time, along with the house he was born in (in Henley Street), and the cottage where his wife-to-be lived (Anne Hathaway’s cottage). The only building missing is the house Shakespeare lived and died in, New Place, which was demolished in 1759 by the then owner, the Reverend Francis Gastrell, a shocking act of cultural vandalism.
It looks like the builder started off ok, but by the time he’d gotten to the left hand side of the house he’d had a few pints too many. Allegedly.