Shaw's Corner was the primary residence of the renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw; now a historic National Trust property open to the public as a writer's house museum. Inside the house, the rooms remain much as Shaw left them, and the garden and Shaw's writing hut can also be visited. The house is an Edwardian Arts and Crafts-influenced structure situated in the small village of Ayot St Lawrence, in Hertfordshire. Built as the new rectory for the village during 1902, the house was the home of playwright George Bernard Shaw from 1906 until his death in 1950. It was designed by local architects and local materials were used in its construction. The Church of England decided that the house was too large for the size of the parish, and let it instead. Shaw and his wife Charlotte Payne-Townshend relocated in 1906, and eventually bought the house and its land in 1920, paying £6,220. At the same time the garden was extended and Shaw bought land from his friend Apsley Cherry-Garrard, bringing the total to 3.5 acres.
George Bernard Shaw was born on 26 July 1856 in the shabby Dublin suburbs, the youngest son of the unhappily married and down-at-heel grain merchant George Carr Shaw and Lucinca Elizabeth Gurly. Charlotte Payne-Townshend was a suffragist, a translator, a socialist and a patron of the arts - she also happened to be married to George Bernard Shaw from 1898 until her death, aged 86 in 1943. From William Morris to Danny Kaye, via T.E.Lawrence and Virgina Woolf, Shaw was a deeply influential friend and supporter of poets, painters and playwrights, adventurers, actors and explorers. Shaw's plays, saturated with socialist thought, revolutionised late Victorian and Edwardian theatre as he brought great inequalities and unfairness of Society into the bright lights of the stage. Humour runs through all of Shaw's plays and all of his letters. He remains famous for the wit of his writing and the way that he used laughter to bring home the most serious of ideas and hopes.
Shaw believed in equality of opportunity and a fair division of land and wealth. Unlike Marx, Shaw believed that socialism would win out over time, rather than by violent revolution. Shaw was a very vocal supporter of women's rights. Many of Shaw's plays explore women's position in society such as Pygmalion and Mrs Warren's Profession. Charlotte Shaw too was a committed suffragist. Shaw opposed warfare and imperialism throughout his life. He strongly challenged the First World War. In November 1914 he published a very controversial pamphlet entitled Common Sense about the War. Shaw is known to have written many of his major works in a secluded, home-built revolving hut located at the bottom of his garden. The tiny structure of only 64 square feet, was built on a central steel-pole frame with a circular track so that it could be rotated on its axis to follow the arc of the sun's light during the day. Shaw dubbed the hut "London", so that unwanted visitors could be told he was away "visiting the capital". After Shaw and his wife's deaths, their ashes were taken to Shaw's Corner, mixed and then scattered along footpaths and around the statue of Saint Joan in their garden.
Designated mobility parking in the main car park. Two steps to entrance of house, a ramp is available. The ground floor has very limited turning space. Narrow door to the kitchen, small step to the scullery. Stairs to other floors. Scrapbooks on the life of Shaw. Two wheelchairs available for loan. Sensory experience. Large print guide. Partly accessible grounds, not ideal for self-propelled wheelchairs. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Ayot St Lawrence, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire, AL6 9BX
Transport: Welwyn North (National Rail) then taxi (4.5 miles). Bus Routes : No service (nearest stop is 2 miles).
Opening Times : Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 to 17:00
Tickets: Adults £7.50; Children £3.75
Tel: 01438 820307