Site of 'New Place', Shakespeare's final house, Stratford-upon-Avon
The site of New Place, as recorded in documentary sources. Constructed c.1483, it was purchased by Shakespeare in 1597 and he lived there until his death in 1616. The origi nal timber-framed house was pulled down and rebuilt in 1702 in brick, only to be razed to the ground in 1759. The site has been the subsequently of antiquarian, archaeological and literary interest throughout the 19th century.
1 Archaeological desk-based assessment was carried out as the first stage of modern work at this site, undertaken between 2009 and 2012. The timber-framed building was constructed c. 1483 as the ‘grete house’ of Hugh Clopton, a wealthy merchant and future Lord Mayor of the City of London. It was the final residence of William Shakespeare from its purchase in 1597 to his death in 1616. The original ‘New Place’ was pulled down and rebuilt in brick around 1702 only to be razed to the ground in a dispute over the payment of rates in 1759. The assessment also examines and illustrates cartographic and pictorial
evidence which provides us with an understanding of the subsequent development of the site and of the nature and results of antiquarian excavations carried out in the early 1860s. Seven test pits were excavated on the site in 2009; the site was characterised by levelling layers, some of which were associated with the period of backfilling subsequent to the 1862 excavations. A number of test-pits recorded structural deposits which relate to the building of New Place.
2 3 large trenches were excavated as part of the ‘Dig for Shakespeare’ Community excavation during the 2010 season. These recorded significant portions of the two buildings at New Place. The excavations recorded significant disturbance to the upper levels of the site from antiquarian excavations, notably J. O. Halliwell-Phillips, 1862-1863 and Earnest Law, 1919-1920.
3 The trenches from 2010 were significantly extended during a further season of the ‘Dig for Shakespeare’ community excavation during 2011. As well as clearing further backfill from antiquarian excavations, features spanning the 13th to 18th centuries were recorded.
4 A further trench was excavated to complete excavations as part of the ‘Dig for Shakespeare’ community excavation during 2012. Further details of the layout of the buildings were confirmed, including a front range and a service range. These buildings enclosed a courtyard. Excavations recorded large rubbish pits, recovering an extensive artefactual assemblage. A trench, 8, was excavated along the frontage of Chapel Lane. It recorded the foundations of a threshold, hearth or fireplace originally within the footprint of New Place, together with other in situ surfaces, pits and stake-holes.