Archaeologists have been rummaging around New Place, Shakespeare’s rather large and imposing residence in Stratford Upon Avon and believe they have discovered the remains of his kitchen.
New Place was an enormous residence for its time, with over twenty rooms, ten fireplaces, a chamber, and a gallery. It was bought by the Bard in 1597 and he lived there for nineteen years until his death in 1616.
During the dig which was undertaken by Staffordshire University’s Centre of Archaeology many new aspects of the property were able to be identified adding yet more depth to the life of probably the most famous playwright in history.
The Kitchen hearth and a cold storage pit, which would have been a below ground, stone lined hole used to store cheese were found during the dig.
A well and fragments of plates, cups and other cookware were also found during the dig at New Place. The team also found evidence of a brew house where beer (beer was drunk instead of unsafe water at the time) was made and pickling and salting took place to preserve food.
Copies of the crockery fragments will be available for visitors to handle at Nash’s House, another Tudor building next door to the site.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust intends to turn the site into a heritage destination to shed light on the Bard’s family life and the man behind the famous works.
The kitchen area excavation, which began back in May of this year has allowed architects to make new drawings depicting how the house may have looked during Shakespeare’s residence.
“The discovery has led to new drawings of how the original house may have looked. The grand 1485 ‘Open Hall’ is pictured in the foreground. The external single storey cookhouse is separated from the main building for fire safety. The rear of the 1597 modernised gatehouse range is visible across the grassy courtyard”
Shakespeare wrote 26 of his plays, including The Tempest, while living at the property with his wife Anne Hathaway and their three children.
It was demolished in 1759 by its then owner, Reverend Francis Gastrell, who was annoyed by visiting Shakespeare enthusiasts.
Work on excavating the ruins of New Place began five years ago and the site will opened by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust next summer to help mark the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death.