Heritage Lottery Support for New Place

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust wins Heritage Lottery support for Shakespeare’s New Place

04 March 2014

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has received initial support* from  the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a project to transform the site of William Shakespeare’s home at New Place, and to tell the missing story of his mature years as a writer and citizen of Stratford-upon-Avon. The HLF has awarded the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust development funding of £176,000 to help it progress plans to apply for a full grant of up to £1.7m at a later date.

The grant takes the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust a step closer to realising its plans to showcase the hidden heritage of New Place, where Shakespeare lived and worked at the height of his success as a playwright, creating a new landmark heritage attraction in the West Midlands.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will now seek matching funds to support the £4.5m project, with the aim of completing the work to open Shakespeare’s New Place for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016.

Shakespeare purchased New Place in 1597 at the height of his success. It was the largest single residence in Stratford-upon-Avon and his family home until his death in 1616.  New Place was demolished in the eighteenth century and a new house was built on the site.  The second house was demolished in 1759 by its owner Francis Gastrell, who was reputedly annoyed by visiting literary pilgrims. New Place has continued to attract visitors from around the globe over the centuries, but with much of its heritage hidden below ground or in the Trust’s extensive archives, it is difficult for many to get a real sense of the site’s significance and history.

Key elements of this major project to unlock the rich heritage of New Place will include:

  • A beautiful re-imagining of Shakespeare’s New Place, following the footprint of  Shakespeare’s home, to help people understand its  size and scale, and its relationship to the surrounding buildings which include the neighbouring school and Guild Chapel that Shakespeare attended. 
  • A new entrance on the footprint of the original gatehouse so that visitors will walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps.  (Currently, entry to New Place is through Nash’s House next door, the former home of Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Nash).
  • Nash’s House, a fine example of Elizabethan architecture, will be conserved and extended to provide an exhibition centre where rare and important artefacts relating to New Place can be displayed, many of them for the first time.  There will be space for informal learning and family activities, and modern, fully accessible, facilities for visitors, staff and volunteers.  The Grade1 listed building requires essential conservation work, including structural repairs, if it is to remain open to the public.
  • The sunken Knot Garden will be restored to its former glory in keeping with the intention of the original design by Ernest Law, the renowned garden designer who was considered one of the finest exponents of the Jacobean knot garden revivals of the early twentieth century.
  • Elements of the Great Garden, the largest surviving part of Shakespeare’s garden will be conserved and restored following the planned opening of New Place in 2016.  A garden apprenticeship scheme will be developed as part of the transformation project, and apprentices will support the ongoing development of the Grade II registered garden to a conservation management plan.  Local residents have enjoyed free entry to the Great Garden for many years, and this will continue when New Place reopens.

Dr Diana Owen, Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “We are delighted to receive this first stage funding from the HLF.  Over the next few years we aim to transform New Place, to bring to life the enduring appeal of William Shakespeare, the Midlands schoolboy who became one of today’s most globally recognised figures.  Our plans include the introduction of a beautiful, almost ethereal, evocation of the footprint of Shakespeare’s home, wrought from the very words he wrote. 

“Over the past four years, the Dig for Shakespeare archaeological project on the site has yielded new insights into the place Shakespeare would have known. We now want to build on the success of the Dig and take the volunteering scheme we introduced there to the next level.  The transformation of New Place will be a catalyst for involving the communities of Stratford and the wider Midlands region with the internationally significant heritage on their doorstep.  With this support from the HLF we now have an opportunity to create a lasting legacy which ensures that this important heritage survives and is understood and enjoyed for centuries to come.”

Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “We look forward to receiving detailed proposals for interpreting Shakespeare’s Stratford home and the adjacent Nash’s House as part of the 400th anniversary.”




For further press information please contact:

Lynn Beddoe
PR & Public Affairs Manager
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
T: 01789 207134
E: lynn.beddoe@shakespeare.org.uk


Notes to editors:

*A first-round pass means the project meets HLF criteria for funding and HLF believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals. Having been awarded a first-round pass, the project now has up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award.

On occasion, an applicant with a first-round pass will also be awarded development funding towards the development of their scheme.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK.  www.hlf.org.uk.

About the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites, the five Shakespeare family homes in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world.

The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no regular direct government funding or public subsidy; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, grant funders, volunteers and Friends.For further information visit www.shakespeare.org.uk