Shakespeare's Birthplace

48 Hours in Stratford Upon Avon – A Visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace

A Visit to Stratford Upon Avon is on my Fifty B4 Fifty list for a very good reason.   I have for many years wanted to visit the place where Shakespeare was born.  The problem is that with so many fantastic places to visit in the UK I kept putting it off.  I therefore added this to my Fifty B4 Fifty list to make myself go.  I recently went to Shakespeare’s Globe for a tour and visit to the Exhibition.  The timing to go to Stratford Upon Avon couldn’t have been more perfect.  We had 48 hours in Stratford Upon Avon and wanted to do as much as possible.

TRAVEL TO AND AROUND STRATFORD UPON AVON

Stratford Upon Avon is accessible by road and public transport.  We were travelling from Kent and as we both have to drive every day to and from work I thought it would be nice to go by train.  The journey was pretty much straightforward changing at Marylebone and then again at Dorridge.  Chiltern Railways operates trains between Birmingham and London so it is pretty much accessible from any part of the country.  The station at Stratford Upon Avon is about fifteen minutes walk from the centre of town.

Some of the places we wanted to visit were not within walking distance.  This was no a problem though as there is a Hop on Hop Off sightseeing bus which stops at all the main tourist attractions.  I have used the Hop on Hop Off sightseeing buses before and they are great for getting your bearings and learning about a place in a very short space of time.

Hop on Hop Off Sightseeing bus around Stratford Upon Avon

The Hop On Hop Off bus was perfect for travelling around Stratford Upon Avon

ACCOMMODATION AT STRATFORD UPON AVON

Premier Inn Stratford Upon Avon Waterways

The Premier Inn overlooks the Stratford Upon Avon Canal

We chose to stay at the Premier Inn Stratford Upon Avon Waterways Hotel.  As the title suggests the hotel sat on the edge of the Stratford Upon Avon Canal.  The hotel is situated on the outskirts of town (about fifteen minute walk) and was perfect for our stay.  When booking the hotel I knew I would only want somewhere to sleep and would not have time to use any additional facilities.  This hotel ticked all the boxes and was very reasonably priced.

SHAKESPEARE’S BIRTHPLACE

The main reason for going to Stratford Upon Avon (as well as being on my Fifty B4 Fifty) was to learn more about William Shakespeare.  We bought a combined ticket which allowed us entry into all of properties owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.   The ticket is valid for one year so we hope to go back again some time next year.  All of the places were fascinating in their own special way.  I could go into so much detail but with fear of boring you I am going to try to summarise each property as best I can. You can find out more information by visiting the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust here where you can also find out prices and opening times etc.

  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace – Situated in the middle of Stratford Upon Avon, it is always busy both outside and inside.  We saw the room which was believed to be where William Shakespeare was born.  In the garden actors were acting out clips from Shakespeare’s plays.  Visitors were invited to shout out their favourite Shakespeare play or sonnet and the actors would act out a few lines.  They used no books or other reference materials just straight from memory. We sat and listened for a good twenty to thirty minutes and only wished we had more time so we could stay all day.

    Shakespeare Aloud at Shakespeare's Birthplace

    Shakespeare Aloud – Actors from Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acting out scenes requested by visitors

  • Hall’s Place – The daughter of William Shakespeare married Dr. Hall and lived here.  The guide at this property was very knowledgeable pointing out different objects of interest.  The gardens here are gorgeous and worth taking time out to look around.

    A view of the rear of Halls Place in Stratford Upon Avon

    Standing in the garden looking onto the rear of Halls Place

  • Harvard House  – An Elizabethan town house built the grandfather of John Harvard, the founding benefactor of Harvard University.  John Harvard went to Cambridge with Dr. Hall.

    Harvard House in Stratford Upon Avon

    Harvard House

  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – This is a beautiful cottage set in lovely gardens.  William Shakespeare never lived there but his bride did.

    Anne Hathaways Cottage

    Standing in the gardens looking at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

  • Mary Arden’s Farm – Here you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of a working Tudor farm.  Shakespeare’s mother lived here and you can meet the staff (dressed as Tudors) who run the farm just as Shakespeare’s mother would have done.  You can also watch craft and falconry demonstrations and explore the farmyard, playground and historic buildings.

    Mary Ardens Farm

    Mary Ardens Farm

EATING AND DRINKING

Being a tourist hotspot with tourists from all nationalities there is ample pubs, coffee shops and restaurants.   We did not have any meals at the Premier Inn as we wanted to try as many places as possible.  We ate and drunk in a variety of establishments, all of which were friendly and could cope with the busy tourist trade.

SHOPPING

Nuts in Your Mouth in Stratford Upon Avon

Stratford Upon Avon has many unusual and unique shops

To be honest we did not shop, we simply did not have the time.  However when I return to Stratford Upon Avon I will most certainly allow a couple of hours to explore the shops.  It is very easy to navigate your way around.  There are your normal high street shops but there are also some more unusual shops.  Once place we did go in was Nuts in your Mouth (NIYM).  This is an artesian nut roastery store.  I love all kinds of nuts and here they roast the nuts on site.  There was so much choice (and samples to try).  Obviously we had to buy some and they were delicious.

TO GO OR NOT TO GO?

Go! – IWP_20160618_11_40_47_Pro don’t see how anyone could hate Stratford Upon Avon as there is something for everyone.  Before I went I knew very little about Shakespeare especially his early years but come away with a wealth of knowledge.  Even if Shakespeare or theatre are not your interest you can not help but like the uniqueness of this town.  There is plenty to do with or without a car.

I guess the only negative point (apart from wishing we had more time) is that it is very busy with tourists that are shipped in by bus everyday.  One way we avoided some of the bus loads was to visit the Shakespeare attractions in reverse order.  We visited in June and I guess that months such as April and May or October may not be as busy.  However, the weather may not be all that nice.  We were fairly lucky as it only rained for a couple of hours each evening.

I will most definitely be going back and already have a list of what I want to do when I return.  Next time I might drive though as there are lots of places to visit and you could use Stratford Upon Avon as a base.  This was my first visit to the Cotswold and the scenery was simply stunning.

 

 

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