Stratford, a lovely little city on the Avon River, is famous thanks to the birth of the greatest playwright of all time. That’s right, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford and today the city is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company.
As Bath is undeniably tied to Austen, so too is Stratford-upon-Avon undeniably linked to Shakespeare. The city’s best sights are linked to the playwright, five houses, each of which offer a different look into the life and times of the Bard. This is the second to last stop on our tour of Heritage Britain. Pack your book of sonnets and let’s go!
Located on Henley Street you’ll find a humble home yet one of the most popular tourist attractions outside of London. It is a world-wide attraction, hundreds of thousands flock this city to see where Shakespeare was born and grew up. The house is perfectly preserved to how it would have looked for William as a ten year old boy in 16th century England. The parlour, hall, bedrooms, butlery and kitchen have all been meticulously furnished with pieces from that era.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
There is nothing un-English about this place, it represents the idyll of the British countryside and everything about rural British life. This thatched cottage in Shottery was the home of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway. It is believed that Shakespeare wooed his darling into marrying him in this very house and today you can tour the cottage and enjoy the adjoining gardens and orchards. To reach it, follow the footpath from the city centre. It’s just over a mile and is a lovely walk.
Mary Arden’s Farm
Step back in time with a visit to William Shakespeare’s mother’s house, Mary Arden. This delightful farmhouse is done up exactly as it would have been in the 1570s. It gives a very good idea what a farmer’s life would have looked like at that time. The property also offer demonstrations by actors in period costume dipping candles, baking bread, hand-milking sheep and other farm activities that would have been part of the daily routine here at the time. To reach it, consider a UK car hire.
Out of all the houses, this is without a doubt the most grand and elegant. It belonged to the eldest daughter of Anne and William, Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. The displays in this house are more geared towards the practice of medicine in the early 17th century and how a wealthy doctor’s family would have lived at that time.
In the heart of Stratford you’ll stumble upon the house of Thomas Nash. He was the first husband of Shakespeare’s grand-daughter Elizabeth. Everything about the place is Tudor. More interestingly is the place beside it, New Place. This is the house that was bought by Shakespeare in 1597 for a whole £60 (a lot of money at that time). It was also the place where he later died.
Holy Trinity Church
For die-hard fans of Shakespeare’s plays, a visit to Holy Trinity Church is essential. This is Shakespeare’s final resting place, overlooking the peaceful riverbank. The grave is well-marked and if you look closer you’ll also find those of Thomas Nash, Susanna Shakespeare, her husband Dr John Hall and Anne Hathaway. Holy Trinity Church on its own is a beautiful parish church, one of the finest in all of England.
Have you ever made the trip to Shakespeare’s old stomping ground? What are your other favourite literary places?