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Wish Lists & Hidden Gems

7 Things to do Without Shakespeare in the Mix

You’re planning a trip to England, and a must-do on your wish list is visiting Stratford-Upon-Avon, home of William Shakespeare. But what if your travelling companion is not a fan? No problem. There’s plenty for everyone to do in this lovely Cotswold Village and the surrounding area. You both might like to see Warwick or Kenilworth Castle, only about fifteen minutes away. When you’re back in Stratford, here are some possibilities for your partner as you take off for Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

The Guild Chapel

The Guild of the Holy Cross was a medieval religious group in Stratford. The group had power and they used it.  If accepted, members paid fees, and services were provided, including a hospital, schooling, a priest to pray for their dead, and support for the poor.  The Guild Chapel itself was built in 1269 and is one of Europe’s most important surviving buildings of its kind.  (Take a look at the Curfew Bell, cast in 1633.)  Walking through the Guild is a journey that sends you back to medieval power, politics, and philanthropy.  The Guild was suppressed in 1553 by England’s first Protestant king. This is a haunted, fairy-tale wonder.

Guildhall Wall Paintings

Take your time with these. The chapel was given a series of wall paintings by an early owner, Hugh Clopton.  They were a cycle of images such Doom, Allegory of Death, and St. George Slaying the Dragon.  John Shakespeare, William’s father, acting as the town chamberlain, had them painted over.  Elizabeth I sent out orders, stating, “All signs of superstition and idolatry were to be removed from places of worship.”  John recorded that he’d paid two shillings to have the paintings defaced.  They were discovered under lime in 1804 and have recently been restored.

Holy Trinity Church

Constructed in the 8th century, this church is Stratford’s oldest building.  It sits prettily on the bank of River Avon.  Check out the Chained Bible from the early 17th century and the exceptional stained glass windows in the chancel.

MAD

Forget the word ‘Museum’ in this acronym. This is England’s permanent venue for mechanical art.  The Mechanical Art and Design Museum, is an interactive zone that is pure amazement.  MAD focuses on mechanical art, particularly kinetic art and robots. Go ahead. Push buttons, pull levers, wind gears, and have a blast.

The Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park

This gallery is in a neoclassical mansion, remodeled in 1760 by Robert Adam. It has a reputation for innovative exhibitions such as the role of fabric as an exploration of sensuality, or the artists’ complex relationships with color. There are pieces from around the world, some exotic, and art that’s strategically placed in the parklands.  (Those parklands were designed by a man with one of the best names ever:  Lancelot Capability Brown.)  Take a walk.  There’s a lake with plenty of birdlife, a forest school, and a labyrinth.

The Stratford Butterfly Garden

Go just over the footbridge, and you’ll find a surprising collection of butterflies, spiders, caterpillars, and other insects from around the globe.  Step inside the Flight Area.  This is a tropical greenhouse where hundreds of butterflies are flitting around.  (There are also a few birds and a couple of iguanas.)  Wander through the Discovery Zone, the Merging Case, and the Minibeast Metropolis.  Yes, it’s as odd as the name.  See it for yourself.

Explore the Cotswolds!

Get in your car and explore the quintessentially English villages of butter-colored stone. Take in lively market towns.  Visit some of England’s finest castles, palaces, and country manors.  Most of all, revel in the natural world and nature preserves that are some of the sweetest imaginable.  

For those interested in discovering all that Stratford-upon-Avon has to offer, while avoiding the Shakespeare landmarks, check out our collection of England tours.