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Arts & Culture

Visit Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon

William Shakespeare—playwright, poet, and actor—was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, in 1564. His early experiences there of family life and natural wonders shaped his work.  He lived to the age of 52 years.  During that time he wrote 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and 39 plays—they have been translated into every major, living language.  A visit to his hometown brings you close to the humor, tragedy, and loves of the Bard.  He lived life on a large stage.

Walk into Shakespeare’s childhood home.

There’s a dose of kitsch in the costumed guides who regale you with tales of his life.  Get lose, and get into it.  You’ll learn about his father’s occupation as glove-maker, an esteemed career at that time, and experience the sights and scents of his workshop.

We suggest that you tour ‘Famous Beyond Words.’  This is a multi-media exhibition, covering the influences in Shakespeare’s life.  (A copy of his First Folio is displayed.) Step into the garden, and costumed actors bring Shakespeare’s work to life in speech and song.  Join in!  Be merry.  Shakespeare was a ham and would have loved it.

Next take a stroll to Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

William and Anne married when he was 18-years-old, and this is where his future bride lived when he courted Anne and they fell in love. (We hope he wrote her poetry!) A beautiful place, you’ll find storytellers who let you in on the Hathaway’s lives over the four hundred years their family lived here. Enjoy nine acres of gardens, orchards, and woodlands. Take an English afternoon tea in the garden.

Shakespeare’s grandmother welcomes you to her home, Mary Arden’s Farm.

Step back in time to experience Tudor country life as Shakespeare would have known it as a boy. Explore the farmyard with its old barns and original dovecote.  Take part in geese herding, falconry displays, and delight in the rare heritage breeds of farm animals Mary Arden would have raised.  Try your hand at archery and check out the demonstrations given by craftspeople. There are nature trails and an adventure playground if the kids, or grown-ups, feel antsy.

Shakespeare’s New Place…

… is where William and his family lived at the height of his fame and creative powers. It was their home for 19 years, and he’d also become an important local figure in politics.  (We got the word chairman from this time.  There was often only one chair in a pub, and the most important man in the crowd had it.  William Shakespeare always got the chair . . . making him the chairman.)  This house was demolished.  Discover why from the interactive exhibition next door.  Their gardens live on.  The flowers are glorious. Imagine the Bard, walking with his wife and children.  What did they talk about? 

See Hall’s Croft, the home of Shakespeare’s daughter and her physician husband, John Hall.

This was a home for the younger generation. Because of Shakespeare’s success, his daughter and her husband were able to create a place of respite and grace.  The walled gardens still exude peace and healing.  The interior is beautiful.  Be amazed by the instruments and medicinal herbs used in Dr. Hall’s Jacobean time.

The Royal Shakespeare Company…

… makes this the ideal place to see a play.  Shows are daily, and we suggest you get tickets before you arrive.

If you think you’ve never been introduced to Shakespeare, we kindly disagree.  Have you heard the quote, “To be or not to be? That is the question.”  Then someone has introduced you to Hamlet.  How about, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” One of our personal favorites, it’s from The Tempest.  Make your dreams a reality and visit Shakespeare country.  England welcomes you.