Let’s visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, the city where William Shakespeare was born. Join us to discover the places that were important in the life of the poet.
William Shakespeare, I think, is someone who needs no introduction. Everyone knows at least one of his works. Romeo and Juliet, Othello, among others, or the famous phrase “To be or not to be, that is the question”. On this occasion, more than his works, we will take a tour of his city, the city where Shakespeare was born and was part of his life until the end: Stratford-Upon-Avon.
- Visit Shakespeare’s houses
- Holy Trinity Church (the place where he rests)
He was born in the city of Stratford-Upon-Avon and the stages of his life, and of his family, are still tangible, since the houses where they happened have been preserved thanks to the Shakespeare Birthplace trust, to the delight of all those who want to know the life of the poet. We would dedicate our day in this city to visit several of those places that were important in the life (and death) of William Shakespeare, will you join us?
Visit Shakespeare’s houses
We had only one day to visit the “five houses” of Shakespeare. Can it be done? The answer is yes, but the truth is that I would have rather divided it into a day and a half, this meant sleeping one more night in Stratford. If I were to make this visit again, I would do so. There I leave you the tip.
Regardless of whether it is in one day or in several, if you plan to visit the five locations, it is best to buy the “Full Story Ticket” which is worth 22.50 pounds and includes the five houses. Just by visiting two houses, the total price is amortized.
The schedules of the houses change according to the season, if you want to check the latest schedules, click here.
To get to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New place and Hall’s croft there is no problem, you can walk. These three houses are in the center of Stratford. To go to Anne Hattaway’s cottage and Mary Arden’s farm you have to take a taxi or have a rented car, which was what we had, since they are somewhat removed from the center.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace (the house where he was born)
We start the visits in the place where it all began. The city and the house where Shakespeare saw the light. In the first part of the visit, they show us how Shakespeare has inspired many artists and how his works have permeated many aspects of our lives. We even see a Shakespeare-style Darth Vader.
Visiting the family’s home
After this, we pass through a beautiful garden, and it is now time to enter the family home. We go through the dining room, the living room, and in each section there is someone ready to tell interesting anecdotes. One of the ones that I liked the most was in the rooms, it turns out that the children slept in the same room as their parents, this until they were able to maneuver the candles.
Understandably, being all made of wood, the fear of the children starting a fire was real. So, you could see the bed “spreads” in the master bedroom. Another thing that caught our attention was that the mattress support was made of laces, these became loose over time and had to be adjusted when this happened. That’s where the English expression “sleep tight” comes from because if the mattress support was well-adjusted, you slept better.
In one part of the garden you can see several employees of the place interpreting passages from plays, from Shakespeare, obviously.
Shakespeare’s New Place (the house where he lived as an adult)
Shakespeare lived here with his wife and daughters Susanna and Judith from 1597 to 1616. A time when he was at the peak of his career and was already a figure of renown and fame. The house itself was a display of his purchasing power. The place has a huge and beautiful garden (with a hotel for insects, adorable). There is also a representation of “Shakespeare’s chair” and a desk. As if to imagine that in that place he conceived his works.
Once we enter the house, we realize that it is not like the house we saw before. There was no representative furniture of the time. Later we learned that the house had been rebuilt. This is because one of the owners after the poet’s death was fed up with receiving tourists who wanted to visit the house. In addition, he no longer wanted to pay the taxes required by the house, which by then should have been worth even more, so he decided to destroy it.
So, after a huge reconstruction job, the new house (or new place) reopened its doors in 2016, thus completing what was missing from the life of Shakespeare. Although it is not the same house, the views are the same, we can imagine him going out to the balcony and seeing the views that he and his family had towards the church and the street, for example.
Shakespeare’s family disappeared
In New Place, we also see William Shakespeare’s family tree and realize that he currently has no direct descendants. Of the children he had, his only son died very young and his daughters gave him four grandchildren, only one of whom married but had no children, when they say that they imply that there are no offspring of the other three grandchildren (who in fact looking at the dates, they died quite young).
Inside the building there are several games and activities for adults and children, all linked to the works of the poet.
Hall’s Croft (the house where his daughter lived)
This was the house where Susanna Shakespeare lived with her husband John Hall, a doctor. Part of her comfortable position was due to the fame of the poet. This house does have the furniture and everything that she could have had, the decoration, everything looks from the time. In several places, you can see “the potions” of Dr. Hall, we can only imagine the people who came to him looking for a remedy to heal. Moreover, being able to say that William Shakespeare’s son-in-law cured them was surely a huge incentive to go to him.
(In the last photo it can be inferred that the family was not very tall, some passages were quite low).
Anne Hathaway’s cottage (the farm where his wife grew up)
On this visit, we are going to delve into the family of Anne Hathaway, who was the wife of William Shakespeare. She grew up in the countryside and when visiting the house one imagines the young man who came to claim her. An interesting aspect of the story is that Shakespeare was something like 18 years old, while Anne was already in her 20s and at that time she was already considered “almost spinster”.
The boy that pursued love
She probably didn’t listen to a boy younger than her at first, but he insisted until he won her heart. Another curious fact: they got married because she got pregnant with him, just imagine at that time the family embarrassment that it must have caused. But eventually, everything went well, no one imagined that the boy who was looking for Anne would become a celebrity and give her a comfortable life. Although other theories also claim that the marriage was not happy, one of the reasons is because in his will William Shakespeare leaves his wife “her second-best bed”, it may sound disdainful, but we must also consider that in those times the best bed in the house was displayed in the living room like a trophy. Whether they were happy or not, now it is difficult to know the truth.
And this is where I started to feel that I would have liked to stay one more night in Stratford, the cottage has a huge garden. There are plenty of chairs all over the lawn and people sit down to relax and admire the scenery. We couldn’t do it, nor did we go all over the land, since we had to get to our next stop before the end of the day.
Mary Arden’s farm (his mother’s family farm)
We drive a little out of town and arrive at the farm where William Shakespeare’s mother grew up. The farm still has its little animals and the employees of the place dress up in the era, but the most surprising thing is that they speak as if they were in that era. I loved that detail, perfect for the setting. The houses that are visited are small and can be seen quickly. But the terrain is HUGE, again a shame not to be able to explore it more calmly. It was our last house, and we stayed until they closed.
During the visit we had a demonstration of how the farmers “guided” the geese, it was very funny because in addition to talking about that time they mentioned little William. In other words, with this, they make us imagine Mary coming to visit her family and bringing the children with her. With all this, we imagine the future poet, who lived in the city, marveling at the geese, horses, pigs, sheep and other farm animals.
Holy Trinity Church (the place where he rests)
And as we already know, the inevitable step of life, is death. Shakespeare has his last resting place in the Holy Trinity Church in the city where he was born. We were able to enter to visit his grave and his relatives’. He, as an important figure in the city, is buried in the part where the altar is.
To enter to see the tombs, you have to pay 4 pounds. Don’t forget to bring your coins, they don’t accept cards.
We were unable to visit other places in the city, for example, in front of our hotel there was a theater of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, if we had stayed longer I would have liked to visit it (and if we could, see a play). Again I thought that a day and a half or two would have been ideal to go more calmly, the city is small and quite calm and relaxing.
And this was one day in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the city of Shakespeare. I hope it will help you if you want to visit the city and learn more about the author of “To be or not to be”.