Shakespeare Family Gravestones
The five members of te Shakespeare family whose gravestones lie in a row at the foot of the chancel steps are:
Anne Shakespeare -- née Hathaway, wife of William Shakespeare and who died in 1623 at the age of sixty-seven.
Thomas Nash -- who was the first husband of Shakespeare's grand-daughter Elizabeth Hall
John Hall -- husband of William Shakespeare's daughter Susanna
Susanna Hall -- née Shakespeare and who died in 1649 at the age of sixty-six.
There has been much speculation as to how a row of grave plots came to be in such a prominent position. While it seems unlikely that they would have been reserved for the poet's family for the thirty-three years between the William's burial in 1616 and Susanna's in 1649, there is no eveidence that they have been moved. There was originally thought that a family vault was under the stones but a recent Ground Penetrating Radar survey has shown that William shakespeare and his family are buried only 3 feet below the surface in shrouds and not coffins.
There has also been some speculation that his skull was removed in the late 18th century by grave robbers. While this is an interesting theory, there are other possible explanations for the structure that was found at the head of his grave. We intend to continue to respect the sanctity of his grave, in accordance with Shakespeare's wishes, and not allow it to be disturbed. We shall have to live with the mystery of not knowing fully what lies beneath the stone.