Hall's Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon
Hall's Croft was the house of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband, Dr John Hall. This Tudor house has main rooms which are decorated and furnished as they would have been during Susanna’s time, but with some rooms on the first floor given over to exhibition space. The house can be visited independently or as part of the Shakespeare’s Houses ticket, which provides repeat entry to all of the houses for a full year, and is thus excellent value for money.
The house itself is both beautiful and imposing, with that lovely heavy furniture associated with the era. There is also a garden, providing peace and tranquillity and a further insight into late Tudor life. The downstairs in particular provides an atmosphere and real feel for those times as visitors walk around, and the doctor’s surgery gives a fascinating glimpse at Tudor and Stuart medicine. There is a treasure trail for children, which kept even two young children engaged and excited about walking round the house, as well as an activities area for them. The staff were friendly, approachable and helpful (and very good with children).
Sadly, as with many of these attractions, there wasn’t enough information around Hall's Croft. In fact, in many rooms there was no information at all, so unless a visitor is willing to carry around an A3 laminated sheet, which obviously is somewhat unwieldy, the visitor is left to guess and make facts up on the fly (which is necessary when you have kids with you). My other problem with the house was the special exhibition on the First World War on the first floor, which seemed entirely out of place with the rest of the house. As well as lacking much to interest (it contained a few medals and other items, letters and photographs), it was incongruous and inappropriate. Surely, out of all of the places in Stratford upon Avon, there must have been somewhere better to hold this sort of exhibition? As with old houses in town centres, there are also the usual accessibility issues, as well as a lack of immediate parking.
So, Hall's Croft in and of itself, has some interest (although it could be made more interesting if there were proper explanations), including for young children. But, there are many areas for improvement and it actually tells the visitor little about Shakespeare himself. This being the case, it can’t possibly be counted as a star attraction on its own. However, when combined with other attractions on the full ticket, the houses in Stratford-upon-Avon are a must for those studying either English literature or the times of the Tudors and Stuarts.
For more information about Hall's Croft, click here.