This timber-framed building is decorated with abstract patterns carved into the timbers. There is carved frieze of vines and grapes along the bottom of the projecting first floor, a series of heads under the windows in the upper floor and a depiction of a dog at ground floor level. The dog has a rose around its collar and above its head and is standing in a heraldic manner. On the other side are a cow and a face. Over the door are two Tudor roses; there is one more in the centre of the ground floor frieze, and four in the top floor frieze, plus two underneath the projecting first floor window. The initials TR and AR appear in medallions above the first floor frieze. At second floor level are five heads; of a knight in chain mail; a grotesque with his tongue out; a bearded man with curly hair; another grotesque and a lady. Two grotesques are carved into the brackets supporting the upper floor. There is a fleur-de-lys pattern, which forms crosses at both first and second floor levels. Much restoration has taken place, some of very poor quality. The left-hand side of the door is obviously more recent, originally there may have been a man's face on one side as well as the extant woman's on the other side. There are four spandrels below the first floor window in the posts. WR is carved into the central fleur de leys behind the bracket holding the sign.
The house bears the initials of Thomas Rogers and his wife Alice, who restored the building in 1596, after the Stratford fire. Amongst the elaborate carvings on the front of the house, is a bull's head, which may refer to Rogers's trade as a butcher. His daughter married Robert Harvard of Southwark and their son, John, emigrated to New England in 1637, becoming by his will, the major benefactor of the college which bears his name.
The house had many occupants and owners until it was sold in 1876 to H. W. Newton who undertook substantial restoration necessary because of subsidence. After his death it the house was sold again, and encouraged by Marie Corelli, the popular Stratford novelist, Edward Morris, the American millionaire, bought the house and subsequently vested it in Harvard University.(1) The house was restored under Marie Corelli's supervision in 1906-07. A photograph in the Illustrated London News in 1909 shows a shield above the door, to the left of the bull's head, with the letters VE RI TAS on three open books within it. The shield is visible in a photograph of 1960 but it had gone by 1986.(2) Comparison of the photographs of Harvard House in 1899 and 1909 shows that it was the ground floor was the focus of the restoration in 1907 and that the later brickwork was removed to reveal the original decorated half-timbering beneath, although apart from the bracket heads, all the carvings seen today were executed in 1907.(3)
PMSA recording information