The Shakespeare.

The building was virtually rebuilt in 1965/6 when the present owner John Hawlins purchased the property in 1965. The above photograph of the original rendered house is intriguing but gives little indication of its age. From the plan below and information from Mr Hawlins, an idea of the original building and its age can be gained.

The three drawings on the left of the above plan gives us an indication of its layout. The house was mostly of brick but there is a surviving cruck suggesting an earlier timber-framed structure dating to pre 1600. There is still a cellar under the old lounge. The cruck is positioned between the old tap room and the lounge. One can see the old staircase rising from the dining room with a nearby inglenook. The steps, leading down from the old verandah, to the cellar still survive along with its old door. Mr Hawlins remembers that the old kitchen/dining room etc. was timber framed and in a very poor state. Its history prior to 1845 is at present unknown but at that time it became the home of John Lewis André, Esquire, a gentleman from London. Was it he who had the building rendered? There is also a fine old boundary wall and outbuildings which might have been added at this stage. Note that the 1965 plan has a little insert of surrounding properties, this harks back to a period prior to 1925.

Plan in the Deeds 1897.

The two plans above shews the layout of the Shakespeare and its adjacent buildings in good detail. A varandah is depicted on the south side. From the east there is the parlour/lounge with a fire place on the end wall and a door way through to a hall with tap room on the right. The tap room had a bar on one wall, this is partially depicted in one of the photographs behind George Walker. There was an area for playing darts and quoits. A box staircase led upstairs is on the back wall.

Shakespeare Cottages
Please see under 'Houses' for their history but at the time of the first Deeds 1888-1897, the neighbouring building now called Shakespeare Cottages was part and parcel of the Shakespeare Inn property. In 1897 the building was divided into four (now two) tenements, but had been a malthouse. This is a useful clue that the building, which appears to be on the 1838 Tythe map 182), was originally constructed as a malthouse. Was Mr André, like Mr Charles in the nearby Bank House, a Maltster, a popular pastime in the 1830/40s? At some stage in the 20th century the cottages were sold to the District Council, which still administers them.

The building, which later became The Shakespeare, is depicted on the 1838 map (182), along with an outbuilding and the terrace of four tenements, now called 'Shakespeare Cottages', and according to the article below, published in 1982, John Lewis André was the tenant between the years 1845-8, he died in 1848 and is buried in a vault in the churchyard. In the 1851 Census there is a John Lee, Maltster, living in the village with his family, who may have been the next occupants of The Shakespeare Inn.

Thomas Mansell, first landlord of the Shakespeare.
Thomas Mansell appears with his family in the 1861 Census as living at Shirebrook Cottages (see The Brickyard), as a Carpenter/Journeyman, born Didbrook in Gloucestershire aged 39. By 1871 he is a wheelwright and although his address is not specified, it is likely that he had moved into our property as his neighbours are living in nearby Bank House etc. In the 1870s he changed trades and there is a story that the building became a pub to cater for railway navvies shortly before 1878, when the railway line was opened. This is likely as by the 1881 Census, 'The Shakespeare Inn' was occupied by Thomas Mansell, Innkeeper and Carpenter. Thomas Mansell died in 1898 and left the running of the Shakespeare to his wife Ann and to his daughter Sarah Ann Amos, the wife of Thomas Amos. More detail of the Mansell family is to be found in the Churchyard page and also in 'Families'. The Deeds, published below, indicate that Ann Mansell sold the Inn in 1899 to the brewery Flower & Sons, based in Stratford-upon-Avon. It remained in brewery's hands until its forced closure in 1964 and sale in 1965.

In the 1901 Census indicates that Ann Mansell had continued to run the Inn along with her daughter Sarah Ann Amos and husband Thomas Amos and lived there with their son Thomas.

Walker Family one: Raymond Walker was the next known landlord as tenant of Flower & Son.
Raymond is recorded in the 1911 Census, as born Sheriffs Lench, aged 27, with wife Annie Walker, born Great Hampton, aged 24. Raymond Edgar Walker had married Annie Need in 1909. The moved on in 1916 and settled into the property Finch Hay. For more information on this family see under Finch Hay.

Walker Family two: From the following article the Walker family took over as tenants in 1916 and ran the Shakespeare for the next forty eight years.

Here is a copy of an article and poem passed to me by Jenny Grey of Shakespeare Lane. It was originally published by the Evesham Admag 10/12/1982, with co-operation from Evesham Almonry museum, who hold photos dating from early the 20th century - certain facts conflict with my own.

"The Old Shakespeare Inn was opened in the early 1890s by a Mr Amos, who operated it as an outdoor bar. Because it had a lovely garden, families, local labourers and itinerant pickers enjoyed visiting the ‘Shake’. It had a license to sell beer and cider, and did not provide any other alcoholic drinks.

It was taken over by Raymond Walker in 1912, and he lived there with his wife and two sons. By this time, the pub was part of the Flowers Brewery chain. In 1916, the pub was taken over by Alice and Herbert Walker (no relation). They stayed for a number of years, with their son George and his wife Christina taking over the tenancy when Herbert and Alice retired. George and Christina had four children – Fred, Anne, Kathleen and Christina.

By this time there was an indoor bar and smoke room, plus a kitchen and three bedrooms. Fred remembered that it was a very popular pub, being the headquarters of the village football team (supreme champions in the Stratford League one year!), the Harvington and District Darts League and the home of the local branch of the British Legion.

Clive Dunn of Dad's Army fame visited the pub on a number of occasions while his wife Priscilla was acting in Stratford. He took part in the darts matches that took place but wasn't very good. Gerry Millard remembers him as very sociable and would buy rounds for the locals.

When George Walker died in 1964, Fred ran it for a while, but the brewery opted to close it despite a public outcry. Local villagers signed a petition to keep it open, but to no avail.

Much of the original building was demolished when it became a private home, although the renovation did retain as much as possible (some walls, part of a chimney, the cellar and one or two beams). One feature of ‘The Shake’ was a large porch supported by four ornamental pillars. These have been retained and form an interesting feature in the garden.

The following two newpaper cuttings are from the Admag in 1982, which is looking back to a previous time. The cuttings are part of a collection of items gathered by Steve Cook and given to the then owner of The Limes and then passed to this website in 2022 by Colin Jones the owner of The Limes.

One other story associated with the Old Shakespeare relates to a former tenant of the building, a Mr John Lewis André, who arrived in Harvington in 1845, and stayed at the house. He died in 1848 and was buried in the churchyard. He was reputed to be the younger brother of Major Lewis André, who was hanged in 1778 as an alleged spy in the American War of Independence, although it was later shown that Benedict Arnold was the spy and Major André was simply the messenger between him and the British forces."

One final reminder of the Old Shakespeare Inn is the following poem which was left with PC Thomas Hancock (known as PC Redbeard) 29th July 1891, when the pea pickers moved on:


Harvingtonians all, farewell!
Farewell! Perhaps for ever –
For what may be, there’s none can tell.
The past is gone; but never
Shall we forget your kindness true
Whilst in your village staying
Some may forget, but yet a few
Our hearty thanks are paying.

Forgive those who, tho’ roughs they be,
Perhaps may know no better.
Who never read, and cannot write,
A single word or letter.
‘Tis but a sorry life to lead
Pea picking for a living.
And none but those in direst need
Their time to it were giving.

Still how much worse it is for those
Who better days have seen. Then
They could wear some decent clothes –
Associate with all men.
‘Tis these that thank you all around,
Shopkeepers and the neighbours
And the police we’ve ready found
To guard us at our labours.

We also must out thanks now give
To the landlord and his wife,
Who, at the Shakespeare long may live
A prosperous, happy life.
Their daughter, too – all try to please;
Their sons are kind and quiet;
Their beer is good, drink at your ease,
But don’t create a riot.

Under the spreading cherry tree
You sit and smoke at leisure.
No matter what the hours may be
You’ll find it quite a pleasure.
Our labours here are nearly through,
And from you we’ll be going
The writer therefore bids adieu
And signs his name – G Owen.

Story from Sharon Alison "Residents of Harvington, old and new":-
"Interesting history on the Shakespeare Inn, Harvington, my grandparent George Walker, had the pub in the early part of the 20th century and when he died my uncle Fred Walker ran it until it closed in 1964. It was a treat to go there as a child, they had barbeques on the lawn in the summer and my grandmother was known to making delicious curries".

Along with the above story is a sheet concerning the Shakespeare and John Lewis Andre, who is buried in the churchyard. Information originally from Steve Cook.

The Pub Sign
The pub sign was a portrait of William Shakespeare, which was attached to the building and faced down Shakespeare Lane. Around 1960, the original sign being very worn and faded, a new sign was commissioned by George Walker and Walter Allvey was given the charge and painted a bust of William Shakespeare, similar to the bust of Shakespeare in the Church at Stratford upon Avon. He was holding a book in his left hand. The painting was on wood with an aluminium backing, the backing was purchased from Harvington Caravans. At the closing of the pub the sign was retained by Freddie and Pat Walker and is now kept in an attic in Middle Littleton.

Photographs from Sharon Allison (Facebook).

On the last day of the Shakespeare in 1964 villagers remember a large gathering when free drinks were offered.

Walker Family

Herbert and Alice Walker (Facebook).

Photographs from Sharon Allison (Facebook).

Herbert Walker married Alice and had issue:-

  1. George Frederick O Walker, born Evesham area 30th Jan 1893, married Christina (Chrissie) A Smith in 1916, born 13th Apr 1895 and had issue:-
    1. Frederick (Freddie) Norman L (Fred), born 22nd May 1924. An electrician, died fairly young.
    2. Chubby
    3. Katherine (Bubbles) Nancy, born 1917, married at Spilsby 1946 to John Foley, born 1916, a large and strong Irishman, he became a building contractor who lived for a while in Ragley Road. She died 16th Aug 1994, he died in 1997. They had issue:-
      1. Maureen C, born 1947. Living in the USA.
      2. Patricia, born 1949. Living near Malvern.
      3. Sharon, born 1951. Lived Great Comberton.
      4. Carol A, born 1952, living (2017) Ross on Wye.
    4. Ann, adopted in the WW2, married John Hawlins. They divorced and she moved to Oxford. Mr Hawlins later married June and they are still (2021) at The Old Shakespeare.


Newspaper cutting in possession of Mr & Mrs Hawlins
another possibility is an old inspection pit in the old
stables that once stood in this area.

Newspaper cutting in possession of Mr & Mrs Hawlins
another possibility is an old inspection pit in the old
outbuilding that once stood in this area.

The Old Shakespeare taken from the south east.

The Property
Deeds: this is an 'Abstract of Title' of the original deeds to the Shakespeare Inn and surrounding land. The Deed was drawn up in 1965 at the time when the property was purchased by the present (2021) owners. The document was kindly made available by John and June Hawlins. The document refers back to 1888.