Stratford-upon-Avon, more than just the birthplace of Shakespeare.
For anyone with an interest in theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon has to be one of the best day trips from London. The birthplace of Shakespeare it’s packed with things to see and do related to the great Bard. Stratford-upon-Avon is a quintessentially English market town with pretty half-timbered buildings lining the streets of the town centre. Bisected by the River Avon, it’s easily reached by train from Marylebone station in about an hour and a half.
Shakespeare’s home, where he was brought up as a child and later lived with his wife Anne Hathaway is in Henley Street, right in the centre of the town. You can visit both the interior and the gardens to learn more about Shakespeare’s birthplace and about how he would have lived.
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall was completed a little before Shakespeare was born and is where he would have studied as a boy. You can visit and take part in lessons there or just learn more about life in the days of the Tudors.
The town is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company who have two theatres on the banks of the River Avon. The main auditorium is contemporary in style and seats around a thousand people while the adjoining Swan with seating for just over 400 is a theatre almost in the round, three sides surrounding a deep thrust stage and closer to the way that Shakespeare would have seen his plays performed. There are exhibitions and displays of the costumes and sets from previous productions and a full programme of theatre and talks including matinee performances on some days of the week.
If you have a chance to get out of the town itself, the surrounding area has a couple of iconic destinations for lovers of Shakespeare. His wife, Anne Hathaway was some ten years older than Shakespeare – and the cottage where she lived and where he courted her is some 500 years old. Visitors can tour the cottage and 9 acres of gardens and land where thirteen more generations of her family lived. Mary Arden was Shakespeare’s mother and Mary Arden’s house and farm have been restored as a working model Tudor farm. You can take part in Tudor cookery classes or learn about falconry.
If Shakespeare is just a bit too close to school for you, then Stratford-upon-Avon is also home to the famous Butterfly Farm, five minutes’ walk from the Town Centre, where you can discover hundreds of the world’s most beautiful butterflies in their own world of tropical blossoms, waterfalls and fish pools.
The Shakespeare Gin Company is based just outside the town and runs a variety of tours, classes and tasting sessions in their own distillery. During the summer they also run gin tasting barge cruises along the River Avon. And finally, in Henley upon Arden, you’ll find the Henley chocolate company – a wonderful artisan chocolatier with a shop and workshop. If you have time, there are courses in truffle and chocolate making there with a range of options suitable for all ages.
Now that you have a few ideas about what you can do in Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford upon Avon, check out our handy guide about where to stay in the area.
For more information about the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, check their website