A full day trip from London, a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon is a ‘must’ for anyone who loves the plays of William Shakespeare, wants to find out more about his life and to see the buildings and countryside that framed his life and inspired him. On our journey, I’ll explain the background to Shakespeare the man, his family and the times he lived in and outline the major phases of his career. Our first stop will be the Birthplace Museum on Henley Street, where he lived with his wealthy parents until his twenties and which is presented as the glover’s house, workshop and garden it was at that time. From there, we’ll walk through the charming old streets of Stratford, where many of the buildings Shakespeare knew still stand to visit Hall’s Croft, the one-time home of his daughter Susannah and her doctor husband, preserved as it would have been in their day, when Shakespeare would have visited. It is then a short walk to the Church of the Holy Trinity, where Shakespeare, his wife Anne Hathaway and Susannah are buried.
Leaving Stratford town, we shall then visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, then and now a peaceful rural idyll, where Shakespeare courted his future wife. The cottage recreates the life of the rural dweller of the period and the classic English cottage garden is a beautiful spot in which to relax. I shall bring a book of Shakespeare’s Sonnets for you to read while you contemplate the scene! If time permits, we can move to Mary Arden’s Farm, which was owned by Shakespeare’s grandparents and where you can see how a Tudor farm worked and understand where much of the countryside imagery in his plays has its origins. This is a richly rewarding tour for those who know, or want to know about the man behind many of the most famous works and phrases in the English language.