"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 28 September 2015

Mary Arden's Farm

D was on holiday last week and, as we still had Mary Arden's Farm to visit on the Shakespeare 5 House Passes, we decided to go along and take a look. I was surprised at how much there was to see and do and it would be a superb place to take young children. Mary Arden was William Shakespeare's mother (she had married John Shakespeare ~1557) and the Farm was her childhood home. William would have visited many times during his childhood and it is suggested that Mary took him there to escape an outbreak of the plague in Stratford.

Mary Arden's Farm is located in the village of Wilmcote, just a few miles from Stratford on Avon. This area was once part of the vast Forest of Arden although by Shakespeare's time the forest had long since been cleared. Robert Arden, Shakespeare's maternal grandfather owned about 70 acres of land and was a wealthy farmer. Mary Arden's own seal used on a land settlement document shows a horse rearing suggesting that Robert may have bred and reared horses.

Confusingly, for many years from the late 18th century until fairly recently, it was believed that Shakespeare's mother's house was, in fact, the 16th century half-timbered farm building now called "Palmer's Farm". It was only in 2000 when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust commissioned research in the house's history that it was revealed that Mary Arden's home had been the farm next door to Palmer's Farmhouse. Luckily, the Trust has rescued this house from the threat of demolition in the 1960's and it was already open to the public.

Palmer's Farm

Adam Palmer who lived here in the 16th century was a close friend of both William's parents and grandparents. The farmhouse today looks much as it would have appeared in the 16th century and contains 4 bedchambers, 2 parlours, a hall and a kitchen.


Tudor Herb Garden

We saw several Red Admirals on ivy flowers although didn't manage to get any photos.

As you wander round the property there are many re-enactments taking place during the course of he day.


Tudor farmyard




Bread Oven and Privy

Tudor Vegetable Garden




Mary Arden's Farmhouse

The house today is mainly a Victorian/Edwardian house but within there is plenty of evidence of the original early 16th century home where Mary lived.

Common Carder Bee on Scabious

Nettles gaining a foothold on a stone wall.

The kitchen/dairy area is used for re-enactments.

Planting Plan of the Wise Woman's Garden

We didn't have time to visit the Wildflower Meadow and new Butterfly Bank which would no doubt have been rather lovely in the Summer.

We did, however, watch the Falconry Display which was rather impressive with the Eagle Owl swooping low over people's heads and landing on the back of their benches! Quite an awesome experience!

Finally, Coffee Cake and tea :)

The photos marked *D were taken by D with the Canon HS50 - again the zoom came in very handy.

We've just got back from a short break in Herefordshire so I'll do a few posts on this over the course of the next few days. In the meantime I'll be trying to catch up with all your blogs.


Margaret Adamson said...

What a treat this post has been to see the shots and read the information about this very interesting place. I certainly would haveloved being there and having the falcony would have been the ising on the cake for me. That Great Eagle Owl looks awesome. Thanks for sharing.

David said...

Thank you again Caroline for another fascinating tour of a historical and beautiful property, there is certainly plenty to enjoy in this post :-)

The properties in question are wonderfully preserved aren't they and as you say it is extremely fortunate that the actual home of Shakespeare's mother has actually survived. I wonder if other such past mistakes in other parts of the country have actually led to some of our heritage being lost?

The burn marks were interesting and I will have to keep an eye out for these elsewhere, and it just goes to show how dangerous some of these old wooden houses were prior to the coming of electric lighting!

Many thanks again and kindest regards to all :-)

PS. I hope all those apples in the wheelbarrow are going to be put to good use!

Bovey Belle said...

What a fabulous place to visit and so ably illustrated! I felt I could just move in straight away and go back in time (though we'd soon have to sort out something helpful from the herb garden for my asthma!)

It's a shame we are in darkest Carmarthenshire or we would definitely visit.

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks so much Margaret - am so glad you enjoyed. The falconry display really was excellent and I am so glad we went to it. In fact, the re-enactments that we saw were all very good and brought the whole place to life. As I mentioned in my post it would be a superb place to take children. Sadly, I don't remember taking D and E when they were younger :(


Thanks so much for your comment. I've been very impressed with all the Shakespeare connected properties we've been to. Going mid-week was a good idea as it was fairly quiet there! D's really enjoyed visiting them all (and he doesn't normally like NT type historic houses)! I think the Birthplace Trust really need to be congratulated for doing such a great job of looking after and promoting these properties.

It does make you wonder how many other important heritage places have been lost. I know when I look at books on where I lived as a child so many of the farms and manor houses were demolished for housing development :(

I think the apples would have come into use last weekend when they had A Michaelmas and Apple Fair Day!

With very best wishes to you and your family Caroline

Bovey Belle

Many thanks! The herb garden was exceedingly interesting. I wish so much we had gone in the summer when more would have been in flower although I think the place would have been a lot busier.

If and when you get to move to Herefordshire - Stratford is closer!

Countryside Tales said...

Lovely to see both places again. I did so enjoy our visit this summer.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

I love raptors, the huge golf ball eyes and wise face of the Eagle Owl among my favourites. The one that visits Newark is clearly very spoilt!

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks so much. Yes, I remembered you had visited recently when I was there.

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon. Raptors are superb and to see the Eagle Owl up close was a real treat. We visited an Owl Centre last Saturday so will eventually put up more owl photos.

Millymollymandy said...

Both places look equally gorgeous, and it's not surprising you didn't have time to visit the meadow. There's enough there between the two houses and outside areas to keep you busy for more than one day! The bit about the hay rick was very interesting - I hadn't heard of that before. A lovely post!

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks very much Mandy. I was really surprised at just how much there was to do there!!If you listened to all the re-enactments etc. you could easily spend 2 days there :) I found the hay rick info interesting - new for me too :)