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Days Out for Lovers of Shakespeare
Fans of Shakespeare flock to Stratford every year for the sights and the theatre. Home to the bard four hundred years ago and the Royal Shakespeare Company today, Stratford-upon-Avon is a cultural and historical Mecca for fans of Shakespeare.
Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity church dates back the early thirteenth century and saw Shakespeare’s baptism and his burial. He is buried in the chancel with his wife Anne Hathaway alongside him and a notable funerary monument on the wall. His epitaph reads:
GOOD FREND FOR JESUS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DUST ENCLOASED HEARE.
BLEST BE YE MAN YT SPARES THES STONES
AND CURST BE HE YT MOVES MY BONES
Julius Caesar at the RSC
Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Hall's Croft, Mary Arden's Farm, Nash's House & New Place and Shakespeare's Birthplace are all in Stratford and most can be visited throughout the year. For £19.50 you can visit all five houses or there are cheaper tickets for those who only want to visit a few of the locations.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is actually a large Tudor farmhouse. It was her family home and where she grew up, living there until she married William Shakespeare in 1582.
Hall’s Croft was the home of his daughter Susanna Shakespeare her husband John Hall and today is an authentic recreation of a wealthy Jacobean home.
Mary Arden’s Farm was the home of Shakespeare’s mother and is open April to October only. It is a working Tudor farm and entry includes the house plus the farm’s activities and the rare breed animals.
Nash’s House was the home of Shakespeare’s granddaughter and New Place was the last home Shakespeare himself had before he died. Today only the foundations are left but New Place is the sight of continuing archaeological activity and it is possible to volunteer to help with the dig.
Shakespeare’s birthplace, is just that, the house where the bard was born. It also offers live performances from some of the best loved Shakespearean characters throughout the year.
The Royal Shakespeare Company
A trip to Stratford-upon-Avon without a visit to the theatre is almost inconceivable and the RSC has two, The Swan Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. With numerous productions, they feature all sorts of theatre, from Shakespeare through to brand new plays from today’s best playwrights. Prices start from as little as £5 per ticket and it is well worth the money to see a performance by one of the best respected theatre companies in the world.
The Globe Theatre Henry IV
Shakespeare lived in London much of his life and many of his most famous plays were written and performed here for the first time. Bankside is the best place to visit for fans of Elizabethan drama.
The final resting place of Shakespeare’s brother Edmund, this is also home to a Shakespeare memorial. The hundred year old carving depicts Shakespeare reclining in front of a relief of Elizabethan Southwark. Above is a stained glass window depicting various characters from his works.
The Globe Theatre
If you can visit only one place from this list of suggestions then make it the Globe. This is not built on the site of the original Globe, though that is nearby, but it is a faithful recreation of what the Globe Theatre would have been like in Shakespeare’s day. Open throughout the late spring, summer and early autumn months, it hosts various productions of Shakespeare alongside works by his contemporaries and some related modern productions. Groundling (standing) tickets can be purchased for only £5, with seated tickets starting at £15. It’s a good idea to rent a cushion as well if you are going to sit because Elizabethan seating wasn’t easy on the bottom. During the interval a variety of food is sold, much of it authentic Tudor fair. The theatre also contains a museum and a fantastic gift shop.