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“Who'd a thought it!”
Review of Shaw's Corner

Shaw's Corner
Ranked #10 of 48 things to do in St Albans
Attraction details
Level Contributor
97 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“Who'd a thought it!”
Reviewed 18 May 2014

I joined the National trust a few weeks ago on a trip to Bodain Castle so determined to visit several Trust premises. nearest was this lovely little place bathed in glorious sunshine, and in bloom with magnificent flowers. We had a lovely visit and its great to think of GBS sitting writing there. smallish carpark, but we got there early enough..

Visited May 2014
Thank glennlobo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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108 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Lovely house in wonderful grounds.”
Reviewed 14 May 2014

Had a wonderful couple of hours walking around the house and garden. Interesting rooms and contents with photos and information to read. Felt as though the occupants had just popped out. Delightful staff who were welcoming and informative. In addition, had lunch at the Brocket Arms in the village which is in itself an interesting building to visit. Also, did the walk past the church and beyond to the woods, field with sheep and then oil seed rape.

Visited April 2014
Thank CharleyfarleyEssex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ulverston, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Reasonably interesting place to visit”
Reviewed 9 May 2014

It was interesting to learn more about GBS and see where he lived and worked. The gardens were disappointing and a very poor selection of plants on sale.

Visited May 2014
Thank Ulvertom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
17 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Nice gardens and house and friendly staff”
Reviewed 20 April 2014

First the moan out of the way. The National Trust website says that there is a second-hand book shop here. Unless you count a couple of old gardening books as a 'book shop' then there isn't one here. Having said that it is still an interesting place to visit. Greeted by friendly staff and 'socks' the cat. We had a small picnic in the orchard. The grounds are lovely to walk around. The house is small and can get busy but well worth a look. No idea if its value for money as being NTS members we got in free.

Visited April 2014
Thank Peter O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
223 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 165 helpful votes
“Socialist Comfort”
Reviewed 8 April 2014

Shaw’s Corner is one of many imposing houses at Ayot St Lawrence, a former rectory and a good example of the Art Nouveau style, both inside and out. It was built for people who expected to enjoy a certain style of living. Whatever the welcome may have been in grander days, it is a warm one now with helpful staff keen to enthuse about the house and its famous literary occupant. Not all the rooms are open, but those that are reflect the fashions and way of life in a house of this importance in the first half of the 20th century.

Shaw’s hats and outdoor gear and a Bechstein upright piano, hiding behind an elegant Art nouveau oak case, grace the hall. The front room is comfortable with a polished radiogram contrasting with photographs of Ghandi, Lenin and Stalin. The kitchen has a fine ornamental stove and the long forgotten accruements of a kitchen run by servants (there were about half a dozen staff). Those more Spartan times (for some) are reflected in a single bathroom upstairs - no such luxury in the servants’ quarters. Nearby is Shaw’s narrow bed; elsewhere his writing desk and typewriter. Mrs Shaw’s much larger bedroom is now devoted to a display of Shaw memorabilia – note particularly his interest in photography and a unique achievement: a Nobel Prize (literature, 1925) and an Oscar (Pygmalion, 1938).

The garden tumbles down the hillside and offers quiet corners for contemplation – Shaw’s writing hut is hidden among the trees. Look out for animal figures by Russian sculptor Paolo Troubetzkoy (1866-1938). Troubetzkoy shared a passion for vegetarianism with Shaw, who remarked of the sculptor, he “is a gigantic and terrifying humanitarian who can do anything with an animal except eat it”.

For all that it’s an attractive house with a fascinating history, the disconnection between Shaw’s avowed socialism and his style of living is sometimes jarringly apparent – no baths for the servants and instructions to housemaids to clean out the grates in the early morning in silence to avoid disturbing the Shaws. And while Shaw now seems very much a figure from another century, the Shaw Estate still receives royalties from My Fair Lady. The ghost of GBS surely strolls very happily around the comfortable properties of 21st century Ayot St Lawrence.

Tips: If you are visiting Shaw’s Corner have lunch at The Brocket Arms only a short walk away. Also be aware that parking at the house is limited – we left our car on street outside the Brocket.

Visited March 2014
Thank Brian_Human
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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