The Blackfriars “gate-house” was a residence built partly above a gate in the wall surrounding the district, and it came with an enclosed garden plot. Though it was near the Blackfriars theater in London where his acting company performed, Shakespeare did not live there but seems to have bought the property as an investment.
By 1613, Shakespeare—who was probably retired at this point—had purchased several investment properties in Stratford-upon-Avon; the gatehouse appears to have been his only investment purchase in London.
The wavy cuts at the top of the document are called “indentures” and were a method of proving authenticity. If there was ever a question about the deed, the buyer and seller could compare their halves of the document. If they fit together, like pieces of a puzzle, the document was genuine.
Learn more about this manuscript and Shakespeare’s real estate transaction: