JUL 02,2016 - JUL 02,2016 (1 DAYS)
Tip 1: (see Tip 2 below for Shakespeare Childhood House and Henley Road).
(see Tip 3 below for a short walk along the river Avon).
(see Tip 4 below for 1/2 day walk to Shottery, Ann
Tip 1 Main Attractions: Bancroft Gardens, Tramway Footbridge, Stratford Butterfly Farm, Clopton Bridge, Sheep Street, Chapel Street, The Guild Chapel, King Edward VI School, Hall's Croft, Holy Trinity Church, The Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company Tower, Bancroft Gardens.
Start & End: Bancroft Gardens. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7 km. Weather: ONLY bright days. Lodging: Morris Ohata, Moonraker House Guest House, 40 Alcester Road, T: 01789-268774, 500 m. from the mainline station (but, opposite direction from the city centre): convenient room, superb meals, fantastic dining room. Transportation: You can travel directly to Stratford-upon-Avon train station from Birmingham (Snow Hill or Moor Street stations). Last train back to Birmingham, Monday - Friday at 23.30. Trains from London travel from Marylebone station via Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick. The last train back to London, Monday – Friday, is at 23.15.
Introduction: Stratford-upon-Avon lies, formally, in Warwickshire. It rests, magnificently, on the River Avon, 163 km north west of London, 35 km south east of Birmingham, and 13 km south west of Warwick. The estimated population is approx. 29,000 BUT visited every year by millions of visitors. I know, Stratford had been criticized as a 'big tourist trap' and as a 'dump town'. The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and receives approximately 2.5 million visitors a year. The Royal Shakespeare Company resides in Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre. BUT, I found this city, during my 3-4 sunny days of visit - charming, colorful, fluent with attractions and routes for walking. So, my conclusion is that with bright days - DO NOT MISS this lovely town - mainly, due to its water-ways, bridges and natural surroundings. The historical aspects are the minor point in this story. Note: Stratford is densely packed in weekends and, ESPECIALLY, during local, annual festivals. You can't find a table in its restaurants during these massive events or times. Another danger (and influx is the water: Stratford's location next to the River Avon means it is susceptible to flooding, including flash floods...
Stratford was originally inhabited by Anglo-Saxons. In 1196 Stratford was granted a charter from King Richard I to hold a weekly market in the town, giving it its status as a market town. As a result, Stratford experienced an increase in trade and commerce as well as urban expansion. During Stratford's early expansion into a town, the only access across the River Avon into and out of the town was over a wooden bridge. In 1480, a new masonry arch bridge was built to replace it called Clopton Bridge, named after Hugh Clopton who paid for its construction. The new bridge made it easier for people to trade within Stratford and for passing travellers to stay in the town. The Cotswolds, located close to Stratford, was a major sheep producing area up until the latter part of the 19th century, with Stratford one of its main centres for the processing, marketing, and distribution of sheep and wool. Stratford is a major English tourist town due to it being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, whom many consider the greatest playwright of all time. In 1769, the actor David Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee over three days which saw the construction of a large rotunda and the influx of many visitors. This started the process of making Stratford a tourist destination.
Orientation: I spent 3-4 lovely days in Stratford. Two days will suffice. The first for the town itself. The second for the Avon river walk and historical sites around Stratford. Many of the town's earliest and most important buildings are located along what is known as Stratford's Historic Spine, which was once the main route from the town centre to the parish church. The route of the Historic Spine begins at Shakespeare's Birthplace in Henley Street. It continues through Henley Street to the top end of Bridge Street and into High Street where many Elizabethan buildings are located, including Harvard House. The route carries on through Chapel Street where Nash's House and New Place are sited. The Historic Spine continues along Church Street where Guild buildings are located dating back to the 15th century, as well as 18th and 19th century properties. The route then finishes in Old Town, which includes Hall's Croft and the Holy Trinity Church.
Itinerary of 1st day in Stratford-upon-Avon City Centre: We start at the Bancroft Gardens which are situated on the River Avon adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This is one of the most visited places in Stratford. The gardens are right in the heart of the town. It is a great place to people watch. There many many attraction spread along these extensive gardens (Avon river, 2 canal basins, 2 bridges, Gower Memorial (Shakespeare with Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal) , many statues, fantastic fountain, flower beds. But, we stay here, just to get a glance and initial impression - before heading, from the gardens, to the Butterfly Farm. It is a very pleasant place with a lot of space, very busy during weekends and holidays. It the perfect place to get views of the town, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Theatre and the Avon river.
The RSC from the Gardens:
You can get a boat trip from here, along the Avon to the south and back, which is very enjoyable too. The canal basin is in the focal point of the gardens. You can take a stroll along the riversides. Many tourists from all over the world visit or sample these gardens.
The Bancroft Gardens space was originally an area of land where the townspeople grazed their animals, and the Canal Basin formed the terminus of the Stratford to Birmingham canal, completed in 1816. The Gardens also occupy the site of former canal wharves, warehouses, and a second canal basin, which was built in 1826 and refilled in 1902
We cross the Avon over the Tramway Pedestrian Footbridge, a nice walkway parallel to the Clopton motor bridge You can walk along this footbridge (packed very frequently) and gaze at the swans and mallards down in the river. It gets you from one side of the river to the other and to the Butterfly Farm. Tramway Bridge, which was built in 1823, got its name from being part of a 28 km. long horse-drawn tramway which ran between Moreton-in-Marsh (with a branch to Shipston-on-Stour) and the canal basin at Stratford-upon-Avon:
We head to the Stratford Butterfly Farm. When we complete crossing the footbridge - we turn right (south-west) (turning left is to the Charlecote Park) we connect with Swans Nest and continue along this path until we see the farm's entrance on our left. In the end of the footbridge there are clear signs that will take you from the foot bridge to our farm's entrance.
Opening hours: Winter: 10.00 - 17.00, Summer: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: Adults £7.25, Seniors and Students £6.75, Children 3-16 Years (under 3's free) £6.25, Family (2 adults & 2 children) £22.50. Disabled accessible. Toilets available. A MAGICAL SITE. Wonderful place to see butterflies in many colours and varieties and the way they develop in their natural eco-system. Allow, at least,1.5-2 hours. Stratford Butterfly Farm was opened in 1985. The key area in the farm is the tropical rain forest with approximately 1500 free-flying, spectacular and colourful butterflies flying all around. The tropical greenhouse is the largest tropical butterfly display in the UK. The following paragraph is quoted from the farm's web site:"Some of the butterflies breed within the Butterfly Farm, the rest are imported from the tropics. All of the places we buy butterflies from are either Conservation projects or Village projects. Butterfly breeding is the main source of income for most of the villagers. These breeding operations have been set up to enable communities to earn a living without causing any damage to the environment and wildlife around them. Not only this good from a conservation point of view, it also allows families all over the tropics to earn a sustainable income and helps to preserve the rain forest whilst educating our visitors".
Other zones in the farm are devoted to: insects (in glass containers), spiders, reptiles including snakes and iguanas, caterpillars and wildflowers garden:
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: it is very hot and humid inside the butterflies' zone of the farm. Prepare a T-shirt for the tropical, rain forest zone. After spending, at least, one our in this area (probably, taking tens/hundreds of photos) - you'll be dripping with sweat, but, fell very happy... The paths, inside, are incredibly narrow so they become, easily, crowded.
From July 2016 had been installed in the farm of around 30 replica Maya & Mesoamerican sculptures which originate from the ancient rain forest civilization in Belize, Central America. Many of the beautiful butterflies on display at the Butterfly Farm are supplied by Fallen Stones, butterflies Farm in Southern Belize, particularly the stunning Blue Morpho:
We return to Bancroft Gardens to explore, more thoroughly, its treasures and to take part with its mass events and festivals. We return back along the Avon Footbridge - heavily packed with locals and tourists, and, down in the river with rowers. Enjoy sunny days in the wide grass lawns and gardens with the backdrop of the river. Features include a human sundial celebrating the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, a new performance area and two fully accessible bridges over the canal basin and the lock:
During our stay the River Festival took place in the Recreation Ground. On the other side of the river to the Bancroft Gardens and the theatres is the Recreation Ground (or ‘The Rec’). Occupying a large area running right the way along the river from Tramway Bridge (a pedestrian-only bridge adjacent to Clopton Bridge) to beyond Holy Trinity Church, this is one of the best areas for picnics with plenty of space to play and run around. There’s a large playground here, too. The above Tramway Foot Bridge connects the Recreation Ground with the Bancroft Gardens:
The adjacent motor Clopton Bridge is very busy and not recommended for walkers. Built at the end of the 15th century (from year 1490 !), this wooden bridge over the River Avon was an important section of the road to London during medieval times. it is the only bridge to bring two major roads into and out of the town centre (to/from Banbury, Shipston and Tiddington). Sir Hugh Clopton was a rich merchant and Lord Mayor who paid for the construction of a stone bridge over the Avon:
Take half an hour to explore the various attraction around the Bancroft Gardens. The Country Artists Fountain was made for the 800th anniversary celebration of the granting of the Charter for Market Rights by King Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1196. The fountain was sculpted by Christine Lee and is made of stainless steel and brass. It was unveiled by the Queen in 1996:
In case you are hungry - take the WEST end of Bancroft Gardens and head straight westward to Sheep Street. With The Town Hall at the top of Sheep Street, this road takes you up from the Waterside (east) to the Town Hall (in the west end) past an array of independent shops and restaurants. There is a wide variety of shops in this street including gifts, fashion and footwear. You will see several pretty timbered houses along Sheep Street - more in the western end near the Town Hall:
The junction of Sheep Street (or, better its continuation Ely Street) x High Street and Chapel Street is a good spot to start exploring several timbered houses close around. With your face to the Town Hall (coming from Sheep Street) - turn LEFT (south-west) to Chapel Street to see on your left the Mercure Shakespeare Hotel: another stylized timbered house:
Nash's House, Chapel Street is next door to the Mercure Hotel. It was built on the ruins and gardens of William Shakespeare's final residence - New Place. It has been converted into a museum.
The house was built around 1600 and belonged to Thomas Nash. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acquired New Place and Nash's House in 1876. The museum traces the history of Stratford-upon-Avon from the earliest settlers in the Avon Valley to Shakespeare's time. NOT recommended for paying a special fee for this museum:
Opposite Nash House, still in Chapel Street is the Falcon Hotel / The Oak Bar:
Walk further south-west along Chapel Street until it meets Church Street and Chapel Lane. In the end of Chapel street stands the The Guild Chapel dating from 1269 and a fascinating part of the history of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s best-known and most important historic buildings. The Chapel houses some of the finest medieval wall paintings in Europe (note: hardly visible), covered up on orders given to Shakespeare’s father in the 16th century following the Reformation, when he was the then Chamberlain of the Corporation of Stratford. They were discovered hundreds of years later and are recognized as some of the very finest surviving. These extraordinary wall paintings, had to be painted over during the time of reformation apparently and were discovered during the chapel's restoration process. The Guild Chapel is open daily between 10.30-16.30. It is free:
The modern stained glass east window features notable Stratford characters including John Shakespeare and Sir Hugh Clopton:
In 17 Church Street you see the Old Grammer School or King Edward VI School an elongated timbered house. It is almost certain that William Shakespeare attended this school, leading to the school describing itself as "Shakespeare's School":
We walk further south along Church Street and turn LEFT (South-east) to Old Town road. On our left is the Hall's Croft - the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. It is really a beautiful Tudor mansion, with stunning gardens. The interiors are less outstanding: it shows a variety of medical instruments and examples of furniture. But, the garden, outside is beautifully laid out but non-manicured. The cafe in Hall's Croft, is superb. I would recommend the Hall's Croft ONLY if you have the collective Shakespeare's houses pass:
Old Town road ends, in the east, in Holy Trinity Church grounds. Amateur theatre groups stage Shakespeare's plays' performances most afternoons in a park that is adjacent to the church:
Holy Trinity Church grounds - view of the Avon river:
The Holy Trinity Church is often known also as Shakespeare's Church. William Shakespeare is buried and was baptised in Holy Trinity church, and visitors can view not only his grave, but the parish registers that recorded his birth and his death. It is one of England's most visited churches. More than 200,000 tourists visit the church each year. Summer opening hours (April - September): MON-SAT: 8.30 – 18.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. Winter opening hours (November - February): MON-SAT: 9.00 – 16.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. The building is built on the site of a Saxon monastery. It is Stratford's oldest building, and is situated superbly on the banks of the River Avon. In the fourteenth century, John de Stratford founded a chantry, which was rebuilt between 1465 and 1491 by Dean Thomas Balshall, Dean of the Church, who is also buried at the Church. The building is believed to have originally had a wooden spire, which was replaced by William Hiorne in 1763. The Holy Trinity Church and its grounds are brilliant place on its own:
DO NOT MISS taking a pleasant stroll along a tarmac path around the church with fascinating views of the Avon River and its by-side park. If you take a walk to the back of the Church there are some lovely views:
William Shakespeare was baptised in Holy Trinity on 26 April 1564 and was buried there on 25 April 1616. Shakespear's tomb is located at the rear of the church. The church still possesses the original Elizabethan register giving details of his baptism and burial, though it is kept by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for safekeeping. He is buried in the beautiful 15th-century chancel built by Thomas Balsall. To see the Shakespeare's tomb - you must pay a special fee of £3. it says donation but the narrow entrance is deliberately manned and you feel obliged to pay. Shakespeare funeral and burial being held at Holy Trinity on 25 April 1616. His wife Anne Hathaway is buried next to him along with his eldest daughter Susanna. Good information boards about Shakespeare's birth, baptism, marriage and funeral, and they also explain the significance of these events within Christianity:
Holy Trinity's stained-glass windows. Several large stained glass windows featuring major English and Biblical saints are at the church's east and west ends:
Holy Trinity's east window from the exterior, depicting St Andrew:
Holy Trinity Church Interiors:
Holy Trinity contains many interesting features, including a special ornate chapel is named after Sir High Clopton (1440-1496), a native of Stratford who rose to become Lord Mayor of London (1491-2). Clopton never forgot his roots, and provided funds to pay for Clopton Bridge, which still bears traffic over the Avon in the centre of Stratford. He also built New Place, which later became William Shakespeare's retirement home (see above). Clopton had an ornate tomb built for himself in the Lady Chapel of Holy Trinity, but he was actually buried in London. This did not stop his descendants from claiming the Lady Chapel as their own chantry chapel, and it has since been referred to as The Clopton Chapel:
Here you will find one of the most ornate and expansive (and no doubt expensive) memorials in any parish church in Britain. This is the memorial to Sir John Carew (d.1628), and his wife, Joan Clopton:
Another interesting feature in the Holy Trinity Church are the 26 misericords in the choir stalls. These misericords, or 'mercy seats' are fancifully decorated with carvings of mermaids and mermen, unicorns, and scenes of daily life:
Note, also, the 14th century sanctuary knocker in the church's porch (built c. 1500):
Note also the pre-reformation stone altar slab that was found hidden beneath the floor in Victorian times and has now been re-instated as the High Altar:
We leave the Holy Trinity Church grounds from their north-east edge.First, we notice this moving wall painting into the Avon Park around the church:
We find a path that leads to the western bank of the Avon river and continues northward along the river bank, boats basin and the riverside Avon Park. The park ends in its north edge in the Ferry - where you can hire boat or pay for guided boat. These small chain link ferries complete a short circular walk taking in the canal basin and theatre or just cross the ruver from side to side. It cost 50p which is super value: always lots to see on both sides of the river so the ferry saves your legs. Otherwise it is a long walk round... 50p for a short ride and £6 for 45 minutes boat ride. The only remaining chain ferry in the U.K ! :
This green area you pass on your way to the city centre and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is comprised of, actually, TWO gardens from south to north: Avonbank and RSC gardens, two connected gardens that run between the northern bank of the river and Southern Lane. The Avonbank Garden, also owned by the RSC, is quieter still, except on days when open-air productions are performed. Sitting between the RSC Garden and the Holy Trinity Church, it is leafier than any of the other open spaces. The ‘pilgrimage’ footpath from Shakespeare’s Church to the theatres also runs through these two gardens. Nearer to the town centre, the RSC Garden looks over the Swan Theatre and is where the RSC puts on occasional events. Despite its proximity to the Bancroft Gardens – only the theatre stands between the two – it is considerably quieter and holds a different atmosphere.
We walk from south to north along the Avon river or along the Southern Lane approx. 800 m. until we see, on our left (west) the Swan Theatre and the RSC - the Royal Shakespeare Company complex. This is a riverside walk which stretches from the Bancroft Gardens, past the theatre, towards Holy Trinity Church. The Swan Theatre is a theatre belonging to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. It is built on to the side of the larger Royal Shakespeare Theatre, occupying the Victorian Gothic structure that formerly housed the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre that preceded the RSC but was destroyed by fire in 1926. It Is a wonderfully atmospheric galleried playhouse. As we said, the original Victorian building fell victim to a fire in 1926. The new building was built in 1932 and the inside has been designed to reflect an actual Elizabethan style theatre. The theatre was launched on 8 May 1986 and has subsequently been used for many other types of drama including the works of Chekhov, Ibsen and Tennessee Williams.
Right: The Swan Theatre. Left: Royal Shakespeare Company:
We approach the adjacent RSC building from the south, bordering the Bancroft Gardens to its west side. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres are on the western bank of the River Avon, with the adjacent Bancroft Gardens providing a scenic riverside setting. The Rooftop Restaurant and Bar overlooks both the river and the Bancroft Gardens. The complex includes two theatre spaces with rehearsal room, front of house and backstage facilities, exhibition areas, restaurant, cafes, shop and viewing tower. The two theatre auditoriums are placed back-to-back with the fly tower of the principal auditorium at the centre. Designed by a number of architects, principally Dodgshun and Unsworth, 1877-9 and 1881; Elisabeth Scott, 1928-32; Michael Reardon and Associates, 1984-6; Bennetts Associates, 2005-11. The Rooftop Restaurant is situated on the third floor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
As you approach the main entrance to the building, go inside and turn left and take the lift to the third floor. The Riverside Cafe is on the ground floor of the main RSC building. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres were re-opened in November 2010 after undergoing a major renovation known as the Transformation Project. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was officially opened on 4 March 2011 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who were given a performance of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
RSC from the EAST side of the Avon river:
You can take an one hour guided tour that departs from the cloakroom and ,mainly, explores the RSC tower. Make sure you get a space by booking in advance - online or by calling our Box Office on 01789 403493. Note: significant amount of climbing involved. You get a bit (...) closer to the world of theatre on this tour and enjoy spectacular views from the RSC Tower. Tower opening times: Winter (until 27 March), SUN to FRI 10.00 - 16.30. RSC Matinees: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00, 16.30. SAT: 10.00, 12.15. Summer (from 28 March): SUN - FRI 10.00 - 18.15, RSC Matinees Including SAT: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00 - 18.15.
Much Ado About Nothing:
Garments from Henry IV play:
Midsummer Night Dream Gregory Doran production in 2005 - super modern costumes:
Hamlet - David Warner in Peter Hall 1965 production:
David Tennant as Richard II in Gregory Doran 2013 production:
Julian Glover as Henry IV) in 1991:
Titus Andronicus - Vivien Leigh as Lavinia and Laurence Olivier as Titus in 1955 production of Peter Brooks:
Picture of William Shakespeare:
View of Bancroft Gardens from the 3rd floor (rooftop):
View of Palmer Court in Stratford from the 3rd floor (rooftop):
The more you climb up higher in the tower - The more beautiful views of the city and the Gardens you get:
The Tramway footbridge and Clopton motor bridge:
The Avon flow to the north:
We exit the RSC building and continue walking north along the river or along Southern Ln until arriving, again, to Bancroft Gardens. Here, we hit,first, the the 800th Anniversary Fountain Basin and a sculpture behind:
Nearby, is, the statue of Shakespeare - the work of Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, It was presented to the town in 1888:
The smaller figures of Shakespearean characters are of:
and Prince Hal;
symbolizing philosophy, tragedy, comedy and history.
In case you have spare time - try to enjoy the Avon river. The alternative to your own muscle power is to take a sightseeing cruise. Two companies are licensed to take passengers. Avon Boating run half-hour cruises leaving from the Bancroft Gardens in a fleet of vintage boats while Bancroft Cruisers take 45-minute trips from outside the Holiday Inn on the northeast side of Clopton Bridge.
We skip to Tip 2 - continuing our walk along Shakespeare heritage sites. We shall walk 500 m. from Bancroft Gardens to Henley Road (Shakespeare's House).
Tip 2: Circular short route from/to Shakespeare House, Henley Road. Duration: 2-3 hours.
Main Attractions: Shakespeare's Birthplace House, Henley Road.
In case we continue our itinerary from the Bancroft Gardens in Tip 1: In Bancroft Gardens head WEST (the Gower Memorial should be on your back). Turn right toward and continue west along Waterside. Turn left onto Bridge St., slight right to stay on Bridge St. The McDonald restaurant should be on your left. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Henley St. Walk 150-160 m. and Shakespeare's Birthplace House, Henley St, will be on your right: the house where William Shakespeare was born and grew up:
The entrance is from the adjacent building - the Shakespeare Centre: A multi-functional building used as a study centre and accommodation for the administrative functions of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, including a library, archive, reading room, exhibition space and conference and office suite. The building, erected in 1962-64, was designed by Laurence Williams of Wood Kendrick and Williams. Prices: Shakespeare Five House Ticket - Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Hall's Croft, Mary Arden's Farm, Nash's House & New Place, Shakespeare's Birthplace: Adult: £24.90, Child: £14.90, Concession: £22.90, Family: £65.00. Shakespeare Birthplace Ticket - Hall's Croft, Nash's House & New Place, Shakespeare's Birthplace (all in SuA city): Adult: £16.50, Child: £9.90, Concession (over 60s, students in full time education and visitors with disabilities): £15.50, Family: £43.00. Quite expensive. You'll decide whether to be or not to be. Opening hours: Spring/Summer/Autumn 2017 - 20 Mar - 29 Oct: 09.00 - 17.00, Winter 2017/Spring 2018 30 Oct - 11 Mar: 10.00 - 16.00. An interesting place of history being kept and with the utmost care and love. The Shakespeare's center comprises a few rooms with artifacts and facts about Shakespeare's plays and lifestyle and an informative film worth seeing. Then you go to visit the house he was born in, full of little details about his life and actors in rooms giving you more information about the way he lived, his family and so on. In the Shakespeare Centre - you'll find information on Shakespeare's era and society: history, culture, religion, daily life and, mostly, Shakespeare plays. In Shakespeare's Childhood House - you'll find insight into Shakespeare's PRIVATE, personal childhood nest. Al in all - allow 45-60 minutes:
The principal public space is the large entrance hall, known as The Room when the building was completed, accessed through a glazed lobby with engraved characters from Shakespeare via the steps from Henley Street. This has marble flooring in contrasting colours, exposed brick walling, and waffle tile ceiling. The space is dominated by an over-life-size sculpture of William Shakespeare by Douglas Wain-Hobson. The statue stands in front of a curved wall which hides cloakrooms:
Shakespeare picture - David Mayhraze (?):
Bust of Shakespeare from 1650:
Sculpture of Shakespeare by Leonty Usov, 2010. The split in the head represents the question "to be or not to be":
Picture of Clopton Bridge from year 1750:
Portrait of Anne Hathway (rep., the original is in the Colgate University, USA), Nethaniel Curzon, 1708:
The first folio published by Shakespeare:
In Shakespeare Centre - there are 250 copies of his tragedies, comedies and stories:
Chronological List of Shakespeare Plays:
Henry VI Part II (1590-1591)
Henry VI Part III (1590-1591)
Henry VI Part I (1591-1592)
Richard III (1592-1593)
The Comedy of Errors (1592-1593)
Titus Andronicus (1593-1594)
The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594-1595)
Love’s Labour’s Lost (1594-1595)
Romeo and Juliet (1594-1595)
Richard II (1595-1596)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595-1596)
King John (1596-1597)
The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597)
Henry IV Part I (1597-1598)
Henry IV Part II (1597-1598)
Much Ado About Nothing (1598-1599)
Henry V (1598-1599)
Julius Caesar (1599-1600)
As You Like It (1599-1600)
Twelfth Night (1599-1600)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1600-1601)
Troilus and Cressida (1601-1602)
All’s Well That Ends Well (1602-1603)
Measure for Measure (1604-1605)
King Lear (1605-1606)
Antony and Cleopatra (1606-1607)
Timon of Athens (1607-1608)
The Winter’s Tale (1610-1611)
The Tempest (1611-1612)
Henry VIII (1612-1613)
The Two Noble Kinsmen (1612-1613)
The 16th century house is extremely well maintained, there are actors in the house to answer any questions you might have and actors in the gardens reciting lines from Shakespeare's plays. You can request something from any play or sonnet of Shakespeare and the actors can pull something out of their memory hat:
John Shakespeare, William's father made gloves, money purses. John Shakespeare also traded in wool with Europe:
Tang Xiangzu (1550-1616) wrote a poem in China, similar to Romeo and Juliet, called "Penny pavilion":
Don Quixote of the mancha, Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), translated by Thomas Shelton, 1923:
The Birthroom Window: it was traditional for pilgrims to etch their names into the glass as a symbol of their visit. Famous names on the glass: Thomas Carlyle, Walter Scott:
A sculpture: "a noble fool a worthy fool" from the "As You Like It":
Great to see a piece of history in Shakespeare's house and to walk down an historic street. Henley Street has a plethora of gift shops, clothes shops and lifestyle shops, this street is a must for any shopper. Pedestrian zone with vintage and 'Old World' charm. There are more shops at the top of Henley Street past (west to) Shakespeare Birthplace House. This takes you into Windsor Street where you can catch the City Sightseeing tour bus.
In the corner of these two streets (Henley x Windsor) I dined in The One Elm Restaurant: £14.50 for excellent meal of veal meat with vegetables, potatoes and gravy. The service and the food are both fantastic. Very friendly and attentive staff members:
Tip 3: A short Walk along the river Avon:
We start our walk from The Stratford Boat Club. THe walk starts on the section along the SOUTH bank of the river - where the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) building and Bancroft Gardens are on the OPPOSITE side of the river:
In this urban section of the river - our direction of walk is from north-east (our back) to south-west (our face). Further down, on our left - are Stratford Sports Club grounds:
Half way from the RSC building and the Holy Trinity Church (all on the opposite bank) - we see the Stratford-upon-Avon chain ferry boat operated manually. Last in its kind in the UK. The ferry is owned by Stratford-upon-Avon District Council. It links Waterside, roughly halfway between the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Holy Trinity Church, with the water meadows on the opposite side of the river. The vessel used on the service is named Malvolio, after the character of the same name in William Shakespeare's comedy The Twelfth Night:
The river is full with activity, boats, colors and vibrations:
We arrive to the place where Holy Trinity Church is opposite on the northern bank of the Avon:
Here, the path leaves the river and take a short detour section a bit distant from the river, bending right, closer to the Avon - returning to the New Lock:
50 m. further south from the New Lock, on the southern bank of the Avon, we arrive to a small, shallow waterfall:
We walk 1 km. further southward along the river - arriving to a wooden, pedestrian bridge. We cross the river - heading to the northern bank. The view from the bridge to north-east is very beautiful:
After crossing the bridge, we descend along small stairway, leading to an asphalted road, parallel, but, a bit away from the river. On our right - Lucy's Mill. The road/asphalted path leads to the Holy Trinity Church. We see its steep, high spire all along this road:
You walk around the church, the graveyard on your left, the river on your right (there is a small entrance in the graveyard's wall), and we descend 10 stairs down to the river. We continue walking, north-east towards the city - along the Avonbank Gardens, along the river on our right. In the end of the path, you'll see, on your left, pretty close to the church, The Dell: a FREE, outdoor stage in Avonbank Gardens. Spontaneous, open-to-the-public stage of amateur groups performing. It is a good idea seeing a play in just over an hour in very relaxed (and beautiful) surroundings:
The background wall of this stage is gorgeous:
Now, on the northern bank of the Avon we approach the Swan Theatre and the RSC building:
We connect, now, with the Bancroft Gardens or the Avon river Waterside. Don't miss, now (in Bancroft Gardens) the willow sculpture of Bottom (whom Titania falls in love with - Midsummer Night's Dream) - by Emma Stothard:
Tip 4: Shottery, Ann Hathway's Cottage:
Introduction: A MUST for gardens' lover. The most impressive of all Shakespeare's heritage sites in and around Stratford-upon-Avon. To fully enjoy this marvelous site - get there early or late to avoid crowds. Although it is located more than a mile from the town centre, it is well worth the walk. It is 35-40 minutes walk from the centre. We recommend you walking to Shottery early in the morning. It will be a charming walk into Shottery village with its special houses and cottages:
The grounds are beautiful, really well kept and lovely on a sunny day. DO NOT come with a car. Not a lot of space around and hefty fees for parking (3 hours minimum).
The tickets are also valid for a year so can return as many times as you want. It is cheaper to book your ticket(s) on-line in advance https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/book-online/passes/ . Your Pass will entitle you a free admission of course. Allow 3-4 hours if you take also one of the trails nearby: recommended very lovely walks and relaxing atmosphere (see below). Opening times: Spring/Summer/Autumn 2017
20 Mar - 29 Oct: 09.00 - 17.00, Winter 2017/Spring 2018 30 Oct - 11 Mar: 10.00 - 16.00. Online prices (add 10% for on-the-spot entry): Adult: £9.23
Child: £5.85 (3-17 in full time education. Under 3s go free), Family: £24.30,
Senior: £8.32 (over 60s), Student: £8.32 (in full time education), Concession: £8.32 (visitors with disabilities).
History: The First Part of the house was built, in 1463 a nd other parts of the house were built in the 17th century. The earliest fact, we know, are that John Hathaway, who was Anne’s Grandfather, took the cottage on in 1543, under the reign of Henry VIII England. After Anne’s grandfather died, the Cottage was tenanted by Richard Hathaway, Anne’s father, who was a farmer. Anne Hathaway was born in this cottage around 1556, the times of Queen Mary I. Richard died in September 1581 and the cottage's tenancy then went to Anne’s brother - Bartholomew. At the time when Anne lived at the cottage, there were only two rooms. Around 1563 Anne Whateley met William Shakespeare. Many scientists think that The Anne Whateley and the Anne Hathwey are the same woman. Anne was twenty six, and William was eighteen. Anne was expected to possibly marry a younger man and somebody who would be a farmer, or to have the means to financially support her well. But, William Shakespeare, in that age - had no job and with no financial means. Anne was three months pregnant, with their daughter Susanna, when she got married to William, William and Anne had to get special license to get married. At those times, it was not permitted to get married between November and February. Anne was decisive to get married before her pregnancy started to show. Anne and William were married on 27th November 1582. Some believe that the couple selected Temple Grafton as the place for the wedding for reasons of privacy and that is why it is recorded in the register instead of Stratford. It would several years after their marriage, and after having three children, would the couple's fortunes change. The Shakespeares' first child was Susanna, christened on May 26th, 1583, and twins arrived in January, 1585. They were baptized on February 2 of that year and named after two very close friends of William -- the baker Hamnet Sadler and his wife, Judith. The Sadlers became the godparents of the twins and, in 1598, they, in turn, named their own son William. Hamnet Shakespeare died of an unknown cause on August 11, 1596, at the age of eleven. By this time Shakespeare had long since moved to London to realize his dreams on the English stage (a time in the Bard's life that will be covered in depth later on) and we do not know if he was present at Hamnet's funeral in Stratford. We can only imagine how deeply the loss of his only son touched the sensitive writer. William, the man whom Anne married, the man with no prospects, ended up being such a successful play writer. The couple ended up living in a twenty-rooms mansion. Anne & William never lived in the Shottery. most likely they did their courting in Shottery and William would have romanced Anne here. It is more likely they lived at his parents' house. But, no doubts that 13 generations of Anne's family have lived at this cottage for over four hundred years, till around 1911. The Hathaways owned this cottage until 1838, and after getting into financial difficulties, they sold the cottage - being tenants again. One last Hathaway’s to live in this cottage was Mrs Mary Baker - a direct descendant of Bartholomew,
Anne’s brother. Mary lived in the middle part of the cottage, Pictures of her can be seen at the cottage. In the late 19th century, the “Trust” bought the cottage.Mrs Baker asked to stay on rent free, and the "Trust" agreed to that. Mrs Baker also collected entrance fees from visitors flocking to this cottage. Mrs Bakers final years did improve financially
for her. She died in 1899. Mary’s son and family, stayed in the cottage till about 1911. From 1911 the cottage was administered and maintained by the National Trust.
This is Ann Hathway's Cottage:
We recommend starting walk along one of the trails near the cottage. We turn right to the "Sculpture Trail and Arboretum" or the Orchard Trail.
A special garden had been planted and constructed with sculptures made by American students - all themed around Shakespeare plays. All the trees in the garden are mentioned in his plays:
"History Play" by Jane Lawrence:
"Hamlet: what Wilt Thou Do for Her ?" - Michelle Firpo - Cappiello:
Brutus - Isaac Graham:
Midsummer Night Dream:
I walked the "Woodland Trail": 20 minutes of walk along a shaded path covered with soft cuttings. No chance for mud. Very pleasant trail:
We return to Ann Hathway's Cottage. Near the house there is stunning sculpture made from palms' fronds:
The Cottage Gardens:
Ann Hathway's Cottage Interiors: