Shaw’s Corner

View of the South Front of Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, former home of George Bernard Shaw.

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Tucked away in the tiny Hertfordshire village of Ayot St Lawrence, is the former home of one of the most influential playwrights of modern times.

Writer, Oscar winner and political campaigner George Bernard Shaw made his home here for more than 40 years.

 Originally built as a rectory for the village of Ayot St Lawrence in 1902, the house is a showcase for the Arts and Crafts style, with stained glass windows and hearts cut into the wooden banisters.

After moving to the house in 1906, George and his wife Charlotte stayed here for the rest of their time together, until Charlotte’s death in 1943.

Now called Shaw’s Corner, the house has been cared for by the National Trust since Shaw passed it over to the charity in 1944.

A prolific writer who completed more than 60 plays, it was whilst living here that he wrote some of his most famous works, such as Mrs Warren’s Profession, Arms and the Man and St Joan.

It was the screenplay for one of his works, Pygmalion, which won Shaw an Oscar in 1938. The golden statuette can still sometimes be seen on display in the house.

Perhaps most notably, it was in 1925 that Shaw, who had become the leading dramatist of his generation, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

An early member of the Fabian Society, his plays had become a vehicle for some of his social and political views, revolutionising late Victorian and Edwardian theatre as he highlighted some of the inequalities and unfairness of society at the time.

But he was also a famous wit, and that sense of humour can be seen running through all of his plays and letters, using comedic approaches to bring home the most serious of ideas.

Shaw’s Corner first opened to visitors on March 17 1951 and today it attracts visitors from all over the world, keen to see the place that such an influential writer called home.

Venture into the garden, and you also find Shaw’s famous ‘writing hut’.

This small wooden building is unique in its ability to move on a turntable, which allowed Shaw to rotate it throughout the day, meaning he could either increase the amount of sunlight coming into the hut during colder months, or seek some shade during summer.

The hut can still be found at the bottom of the garden today, offering a unique insight into how he preferred to work.

The house is currently closed, as it is every year during the winter months, but in spring and summer it comes back to life. The beautiful gardens are full of beautiful blooms throughout the seasons, and in summer, they also play host to a series of outdoor theatre performances.

Every year in June and July, the house becomes the backdrop, the terrace the stage, and the lawn a natural auditorium as some of Shaw’s plays are performed here, as visitors bring picnics, blankets and choose their perfect spot to view the action.

Shaw’s Corner is due to re-open to visitors in spring 2017 – check the website, for opening times and outdoor theatre performance dates.

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