Harvard House is one of Stratford-upon-Avon's most striking Elizabethan town houses, at what is now 26 High Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. The house is open to visitors while New Place and Nash’s House are closed for conservation.
Explore this unique three-storey town house, learn about its fascinating story and admire the fine exterior oak carvings, 16th Century stained glass and painted panels within.
Be sure to look out for the latest puzzles, quizzes and trails to help bring your visit to life!
The History of Harvard House
Once known as the Ancient House, the property was built by local businessman Thomas Rogers in 1596; the year before William Shakespeare bought New Place, just a few hundred yards along the street.
Rogers was a successful butcher as well as a corn and cattle merchant. He served as Alderman for the Stratford Corporation alongside John Shakespeare, William’s father. The elaborately carved front of the building is a clear statement of his wealth and social-standing.
In 1605, Thomas Rogers’ daughter Katherine married Robert Harvard of Southwark. Their son, John, was born two years later and would go on to marry Ann Sadler before the couple emigrated to Massachusetts, America.
John Harvard worked as a preacher and teaching elder in Newtowne, where the Massachusetts Bay Colony had set up a fund for the founding of a new college. John died of tuberculosis in 1638, bequeathing £750 to the fund – in excess of £3 million today – along with his library of 230 books.
It was agreed that Newtowne should be renamed Cambridge, after the university John attended in England, and that the new college would bear his name. Harvard College remains one of the two schools within Harvard University and is the oldest institution of higher education in America.
In 1909, the Ancient House in Stratford-upon-Avon was purchased by the American millionaire, Edward Morris of Chicago. After extensive restoration, it was given to Harvard University and became known as Harvard House.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has been caring for Harvard House on behalf of Harvard University since 1990.