Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn, Herts 🇬🇧

by Nick

This was the country home and gardens of the famous Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw. He lived at the house from 1906 until he died in 1950, but it is here, in a small, writing hut, where he wrote his most famous work. From this revolving hut, he was the first person to win an Academy Award and Nobel Prize for Literature. Read our guide to what there is to see at Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn in Hertfordshire.

Travel Essentials – The National Trust


Getting to Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn

Preferred mode of transport: Car. 
Nearest railway station: Welwyn Garden City. 15 minutes by taxi.
Entry: £5 (Gardens only) – free for National Trust members.
Parking onsite: Yes.
Notes: The gardens are open – by booking only. The house is currently closed due to COVID restrictions.


Quick facts about George Bernard Shaw

  • The first person to win an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • A devout vegetarian who did not drink or smoke. 
  • Wrote most of his work in a hut at the back of his garden.
  • Revolutionised comedic drama but was a socialist, feminist and activist.
  • Left money in his will for a new 40 letter alphabet.


Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn – Garden only

  • The House
  • The Study
  • The Veranda
  • The Dell
  • The Writing Hut
  • Wood Cutting Area
  • Pump House


1. The House

Originally a rectory built in 1902,  George Bernard Shaw and his wife, Charlotte Frances Payne-Townshend, a political activist, rented the house from 1906. They purchased the freehold in 1920. Shaw lived there until he died in 1950. In 1943 he handed over the property’s responsibility to the National Trust, who maintained the house for his final seven years on the condition that he could continue to live there.

The National Trust - Path leading to the house of George Bernard Shaw, Shaw's Corner, Welwyn, UK

The path leading to the house of George Bernard Shaw, Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn, UK


2. The Study

As a playwright, critic and political activist, Shaw spent considerable time writing, being the first person to be awarded an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize in Literature. The encased Oscar he won for Pygmalion in 1939 is displayed through the window at the house’s left-hand side.


3. The Veranda

Hanging on the wall is an original mercury thermometer. The bronze bust of Shaw, created by Rodin in 1906, is visible through the veranda window. Shaw’s wife paid Rodin a fee of £1000 for the sculpture, equivalent to £125,000 in today’s money.

Visible is a marble sculpture of Shaw’s hand by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl, one of Hungary’s most celebrated sculptors. Looking closely, and a seated statue of Shaw created by the Russian Paolo Troubetzkoy in 1926. Shaw described Troubetzkoy as “the most astonishing sculptor of modern times”. They remained friends for over 30 years.

The National Trust - The veranda of George Bernard Shaw's house, Shaw's Corner, Welwyn,  UK

The veranda of George Bernard Shaw’s house, Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn, UK


4. The Dell

Below a small dip in the garden called the dell. The statue of Saint Joan, created in honour of the play Saint Joan, overlooks it. Some described the play as Shaw’s “only tragedy” is about the 15th-century French military figure Joan of Arc

The National Trust - The dell at George Bernard Shaw's house, Shaw's Corner, Welwyn, UK

The dell at George Bernard Shaw’s house, Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn, UK


5. The Writing Hut

What started as his wife’s summer hut became his favourite place to write, eventually becoming his writing hut. Peeking through the hut, located at the rear of the garden, the set-up is just as it was in his time. The inks, pens and the famous typewriter are all intact. It is incredible to think this small hut inspired so much great work.

His Dryad chair from the 1920s, a rattan-style dining chair, where he spent countless hours probably would not pass a modern-day desk health and safety assessment. He also had a telephone installed, very avant-garde for the time.

Quite forward-thinking, Shaw designed the hut to rotate, starting the day facing head and revolving as the day progressed.

The National Trust - Writing hut of George Bernard Shaw, Shaw's Corner, Welwyn, UK

Writing hut of George Bernard Shaw, Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn, UK


6. Wood Cutting Area

To the right of the garden is where Shaw and his wife would cut wood. They chopped it for exercise, and it provided wood for the house.

The National Trust - Woodcutting area of George Bernard Shaw's house, Shaw's Corner, Welwyn, UK

Woodcutting area of George Bernard Shaw’s house, Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn, UK


7. Pump House

The house was the first in the village of Ayot St Lawrence to get mains electricity and a plumbed water supply. Before this, they used a well for water.

The National Trust - Pumphouse of George Bernard Shaw's residence, Shaw's Corner, Welwyn, UK

Pumphouse of George Bernard Shaw’s residence, Shaw’s Corner, Welwyn, UK


The verdict

Although the house at Shaw’s Corner is not open (April 2021), the garden is worth visiting. Small, tranquil and well-manicured, it is a pleasant way to while away a sunny afternoon. There are garden benches plus the option of sitting on the grass. The best spot is on a bench at the back of the garden with a view of the house and the writing hut on the left-hand side. As his work gained prominence, his wealth increased, which is noticeable in his standard of living for the time. 

Surrounded by quaint, narrow country lanes with overhanging trees, the area is ideal for exploring on foot. These lanes are mostly traffic-free but perfect for cyclists who enjoy the spiralling routes through the countryside.

Cabin Bags Only rating: 7/10


I want to be thoroughly used up when I die for the harder I work the more I live.


George Bernard Shaw


More information – The National Trust

National Trust – Shaw’s Corner

Read about our other National Trust visits.