the illustrated shakespeare


The home of a Dr John Hall, and his wife, (Shakespeare's eldest daughter) Susanna, is situated in Stratford-upon-Avon, near to Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. Hall's Croft is a fine timber-framed house, in Old Town, the street which leads from the town-centre streets to the parish church.

Named after John Hall the occupant who is known both as a result of his marriage, in 1607, to Susanna, and because of the publication of his medical case notes, some twenty-two years after his death. These notes, collectively entitled, 'Select Observations on English Bodiee' ,written between the years 1611 to 1635, and covering information of around 155 patients from all walks of life, provide an invaluable insight into the practice of medicine during the seventeenth century.
Dr. Hall and Susanna had one child, Elizabeth. On Shakespeare's death in 1616, the small family moved into New Place, which Susanna had inherited from her father, John died in 1635, Susanna in 1649, Elizabeth, their daughter, married, first, Thomas Nash who died 1647, and later John Barnard.

The oldest part of the present structure, the Hall and Parlour to the north, with a range of small rooms behind, dates from the early seventeenth century, and is now furnished as it may have been in Hall's day. It includes a consulting room or dispensary together with the essential requirements of a physician of that time.
These rooms were an extension to an older building to the south (on the site of the present shop), which was later reconstructed, probably towards the end of the seventeenth century.

On Shakespeare's death in 1616, Hall and his wife took up residence at New Place and the ownership of Hall's Croft passed to a family of town gentry by the name of Smith. Around 1630 a free-standing kitchen was built, with hayloft and stable, probably replacing an earlier building on the site. Then, around the middle of the century, the two separate structures were linked together by an impressive new staircase hall.

For many the building remained as the residence of town gentry. Then, from the late eighteenth century until around 1850, it was occupied by professional men, mainly solicitors and doctors, before being converted into a private school, first for boys and then girls. From the 1880s, however, it was the home of Widow Catherine Croker, until her death in 1913. For a few months in 1899 she let it to the best-selling novelist, Marie Corelli. It was then sold to an American, Josephine Macleod, who took up residence there with her sister, Betty Leggett, the widow of the millionaire founder of a New York grocery business. Betty died in 1931 and in 1943 Josephine made the house over to her niece, the Countess of Sandwich. Her daughter sold the house to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1949. Following substantial restoration, it was opened to the public in 1951.