Mary Arden's House
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Three miles outside Stratford to the north lies the small village of Wilmcote. Here stands a lovely half-timbered Tudor farmhouse built of oak from the nearby Forest of Arden and stone from Wilmcote. This was the childhood home of Mary Arden, the eighth daughter of a well-to-do yeoman farmer named Robert Arden. The house is indicative of how a better-off family would have lived in the late Tudor period.
There is more to Mary Arden's House than the Tudor farmhouse. In the grounds are several interesting buildings, including stables, a cider mill, and a dovecote with nesting holes for 657 doves.
An interesting tale adheres to Mary Arden's House. For centuries the traditional farmhouse immediately the east of the current visitor parking lot was thought to be the house where Shakespeare's mother was born and lived prior to her marriage to John Shakespeare. The identification of this building as Mary Arden's House was based on local tradition. A few years ago the adjoining farm came on the market. This property was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to prevent any modern development being built on the site. It was only later than detective work by historians revealed that this adjoining farm was, in fact, the actual home of Mary Arden!
Though it seems funny, it does show how conscious of status symbols and wealth the Elizabethan period became, as social standing began a slow move away from status based on noble name and rank, to a system that recognized wealth as the major basis for status.
Perhaps the finest piece of furniture is a 16th century cupboard with Stuart paneling. More rare is a lovely copper mold for making sugar biscuits. Children will especially enjoy the Elizabethan mouse trap, which thuds down with a startling 'thump' on an unsuspecting model mouse.
The second farmhouse you come to is Mary Arden's House. Until the 1970s the house was owned by an elderly woman who had lived there since the 1920s. When she died, the house was preserved very much as she had left it. So the interior is an intriguing time capsule of traditional Victorian and Edwardian household implements and furniture.
This presents an intriguing contrast to the very different Elizabethan furnishings of Palmer's Farm, which offers a much better idea of how Mary Arden would have lived.
Aside from the domestic buildings and rural life displays, there is quite a lot for families to explore; there is a pigsty - featuring some very friendly pigs - a nature trail and wildflower meadow, an adventure playground, Cotswold sheep, and Longhorn cattle. But the most popular feature for children is the falconry display, where children of any age can watch, and get to hold, birds of prey. Our children, ages 6 and 12, enjoyed their visit immensely.
Traditional farm buildings and crafts
About Mary Arden's House
Address: Station Road, Wilmscote, Warwickshire, England, CV37 9UN
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Website: Mary Arden's House
Phone: 01789 338535
OS: SP166 582
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Historic Time Periods:
Find other attractions tagged with:
16th century (Time Period) - Edwardian (Historical Reference) - Elizabethan (Architecture) - Medieval (Time Period) - Shakespeare (Person) - Stuart (Time Period) - Tudor (Time Period) - Victorian (Time Period) -
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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Shakespeare's Birthplace - 2.9 miles (Historic Building)
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King Edward School - 3.1 miles (Historic Building)
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