Places to See and Tips for Your Trip to England
I was offered to study abroad during one of my English classes in college. The professor in charge of taking the students spoke to everyone in the class about the details of it. She said we were all required to take a William Shakespeare class before we graduate, but we had the option of studying Shakespeare abroad with her during spring break in place of that class. I did not hesitate to sign up as I love to travel and to experience new things. The knowledge I gained from my trip has helped me further educate my high school students on a personal level as they read the amazing work of William Shakespeare. The following are only the highlights from my trip that enriched my studies as an English major.
The famous British guards you see in the movies wearing the red coats do not always wear that color. They wear the red coat during the spring and summer, and they wear grey coats during autumn and winter.
The Globe Theatre
Did you know the Globe Theatre that stands today is not the original structure? My classmates and I were shocked to find out that the original was burned down, and it was rebuilt in 1997. Our time at the Globe Theatre allowed us to gain insightful information about its history as we eagerly awaited our time to see Francis Beaumont's play, The Knight of the Burning Pestle. This was a comedy that the study abroad students all studied before our journey to England. I was laughing so much that tears were rolling down my face. It was my favorite memory out of the trip, and I am so jealous that theatre is not a norm in the United States.
The Globe Theatre was not the only place we got to see a play at. My classmates and I were able to take a red double decker bus to a small, quaint theatre on the outskirts of the city. We had tickets to see The Tempest by William Shakespeare. This play is considered a comedy and a tragedy, so I did not laugh as hard as I did with the first one we saw. However, it was still a phenomenal performance. I would give anything to see both of those plays again.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
This museum has many exhibitions of art and design. One room is dedicated to all things related to theatre. My classmates and I were thrilled to dart around the rooms looking at which costumes were used for which plays. Not all were the original costumes that were worn, but it was absolutely fascinating!
We were also able to visit the National Gallery Famous Art Museum. The paintings here are exquisite! My classmates and I would sit on a bench in front of the bigger paintings and scrutinize them with awe, sharing out our thoughts about what the artist was trying to convey.
There was an overwhelming feeling as I walked through the streets of Stratford. This is where the greatest writer of all time once walked. It was even more overwhelming stepping foot into the home of where he was born. Our tour guide told us all about William Shakespeare's family and told us interesting facts about the home. One aspect of the tour that really fascinated me was how short the doorways and beds were. Our tour guide told us that they have come to the conclusion that people were really short during Shakespeare's time.
William Shakespeare's Grave
Whenever I talk and share pictures of me in front of William Shakespeare's grave with my students, they always laugh and call me a nerd. I feel so grateful to have had the experience of standing in front of his grave. This is every English major's dream. William Shakespeare is buried in the town he was born in, Stratford-Upon- Avon in the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Learning About Theatre
During our stay in Stratford-Upon-Avon, we met with historians for a class that explained to us everything about how theatre worked during Shakespeare's time. They handed out diagrams of different staging, and sketches of costumes that were for certain plays. My time in this class helped me pass down the knowledge to my students that there were no actresses during Shakespeare's time. All characters on the stage, whether those characters are male or female, were performed by men.
Other Places I Visited in England
All are stunning structures that hold so much history:
- Saint Paul's Cathedral
- London Tower Bridge
- The Tower of London
- Westminster Abbey Cathedral
- Buckingham Palace
- The London Eye
- Ham House
- King Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace
- Warwick Castle
Travel Tip for Harry Potter Fans
Do not go to King‘s Cross St. Pancras if you are trying to take pictures at the station that was filmed in the movie! Only small elements were filmed at this station. There is another station called King’s Cross that should be where they filmed the station. King’s Cross St. Pancras will have a Harry Potter souvenir shop and a fake Platform 9 & 3/4 to take a picture at. The locals are very friendly and willing to help, so do not be afraid to ask someone!
Other Travel Tips
- Pack a small umbrella with you and bring it with you at all times. I went in February 2014, and it rained off and on constantly. Even if the sky is blue and it does not look like it is going to rain, bring it in just in case. Those clouds roll in fast!
- For the girls: Even with an adapter, your hair drier, straightener, and curling iron most likely will not work.
- Try a delicious Scotch egg.