This year we celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare. Why not mark the occasion by visiting the birthplace of William Shakespeare? Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town with over 800 years of history, is located in the heart of England.
Visiting the Birthplace of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was well known for his sonnets and plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet.
Said to have been born in John Shakespeare’s House (Shakespeare’s Birthplace), the 16th century Tudor style home constructed in wattle and dubb around a wooden structure was of the times. Be among the greats that has visited this historical dwelling such as Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, and John Keats.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens
Apart from visiting the birthplace of William Shakespeare, visit the former home of his wife – Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – the thatched farm house is located one mile from the town centre. See the many original items including furniture and stroll through the lush gardens.
Mary Arden’s Farm
Experience 500 years of history in this real Tudor farm which was the childhood home of Mary Arden, the mother of William Shakespeare. Lots to do for the whole family from watching the farmers wife cook in the kitchen to falconry displays.
For more information and opening times visit – Mary Arden’s Farm.
The Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre
Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Ltd. Incorporated begin in 1875 over the years there has been a number of changes including the large transformation to The Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre. Today you can enjoy a number of live performances, a behind the scenes tour and take in the incredible views of Stratford-upon-Avon from the tower.
Other things to do while visiting
There are a few more things you can do while visiting the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Take a 30-45 minute cruise along Stratford-upon-Avon’s historical Canal Basin, on-board an electrical powered cruiser. Travel downstream past The Royal Shakespeare Company enjoying the tranquil waters and beautiful Cotswolds countryside.
Visit the local Charter Market that takes place every Friday and Saturday in Rother Street between 9am – 4pm. On Saturdays it is also complimented by the Farmers Market and Antique Stalls.
Events marking 400th anniversary since William Shakespeare
A major restoration project has made the ambitious vision of the Trustees of King Edward VI School, the school which William Shakespeare attended in Stratford-upon-Avon, possible. Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall will open as a heritage attraction of international significance in April. Visitors will be able to experience the place, not far from his Birthplace, where Shakespeare was educated and inspired to become the world’s greatest playwright, and to learn of the extraordinary history of the building and the civic history of the town. Built between1418 – 20, the Guildhall, described by historian and broadcaster, Michael Wood, as ‘one of the most atmospheric, magical and important buildings in the whole of Britain’, was last renovated in the 1890s. The building will undergo major restoration and new interactive displays, filmed performances, a Tudor lesson and an 18th century classroom will bring Shakespeare’s story to life. With over 400 years of involvement in the social and religious aspects of the town, including Shakespeare’s father’s leading role in the council – there are plenty of stories to uncover.
The RSC has commissioned a brand new self-guided tour to mark the anniversary. Shakespeare Steps invites people to follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous playwright. The free self-guided tour, which involves eight locations, will run alongside Stratford’s historic spine. At each stop visitors can follow footsteps and speech bubbles painted on pavements that work as instructions for acting out mini dramas. The tour is available from 23 April and a free map is also available to guide visitors, give them historical background and features a treasure hunt challenge for children. Shakespeare Steps starts at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and other locations include Shakespeare’s New Place, Guildhall, and Holy Trinity Church before finishing at the RST.
Visit the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried and where you can see the graves of Shakespeare, his wife Anne Hathaway and other family members. From April – August the Church will be hanging seven specially commissioned paintings from its central pillars, each one inspired by one part of Shakespeare’s famous ‘Seven Ages of Man’ soliloquy. The art installation will be displayed with accompanying explanatory literature. Stratford born artist Jonathan Waller is creating the mixed media pictures and has work in collections at both the Tate Gallery and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
There is a variety of accommodation available from budget hostels to central historic buildings now housing chain hotels. Don’t forget to book in advance to get the best rates and availability.
Stratford-upon-Avon can be reached by train or why not have that extra flexibility and visit more of the surrounding area by hiring a car.
As always we would love to hear from you. Are you visiting the birthplace of William Shakespeare? Or perhaps you have already visited, if so what was your highlight? Please leave any comments/questions below. Happy Travels:) x