Stratford-Upon-Avon – Birthplace of Shakespeare
Stratford-Upon-Avon would be a popular tourist destination without the town’s associations with William Shakespeare.
Historic Tudor architecture, set in the Cotswold countryside, is in easy reach of London and the West Midlands; but despite Stratford’s many attractions the most popular are those associated with the town’s most famous son.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Henley Street
Shakespeare was born in Henley Street, just a short walk from the central Town Square in a typical Tudor town house.
Today, the timber framed building is furnished in 16th century style with a combination of original and replica items. Guides, in period costume, show visitors round the house and garden. The tour takes at least 45 minutes, and extra time should be allowed for the gift shop.
See 16th Century Life at Mary Arden’s Farm
Mary Arden, Shakespeare’s mother, was born at Wilmcote 5 miles north of Stratford. There has been some confusion regarding the exact location.
It was recently discovered that the farm transformed to welcome visitors was actually own by the Palmer family; and the Ardens lived at nearby Glebe Park. Visitors still flock to the farm to see working examples of daily life on a 16th century farm.
Watch sheep being milked, bread being baked and candles being dipped. There are also regular themed activities and festivals.
Palmers, as it is now known, is just a short walk from Wilmcote railway station, on the Stratford to Birmingham line.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Birthplace of Shakespeare’s Wife
Shottery was a small hamlet, a mile outside Stratford. The expansion of Stratford has joined the two places; but in the 16th century Shottery was a distinct community, separated from Stratford by open fields.
The house where Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, was born to wealthy parents is now another visitor attraction.
The house is a thatched country cottlage, with an award winning garden and woodland walk. The Cottage Restaurant and Tea Gardens, just across the road, offers refreshments ranging from homemade sandwiches and cream teas to hot meals. Coach parties can be accommodated, with advance notice.
Hall’s Croft in Stratford Old Town is a Museum of Tudor Medicine
Hall’s Croft stands in the Old Town, between the town centre and Holy Trinity Church, where the Bard is buried. This Tudor, timber-framed, house was the home of Shakespeare’s son-in law, John Hall.
The house has a display of period furniture and art and an exhibition of Tudor medicine.
Nash’s House and New Place where Shakespeare Lived and Died
Shakespeare bought New Place in 1597 for £120.This may seem a pittance by current standards, but in the late 16th Century houses could cost as little as £25.
Shakespeare made this his family home and died there on his 52nd birthday, 23rd April 1616.
Next to New Place was Nash’s House, which was owned by Thomas Nash, husband of Shakespeare’s granddaughter. The properties were demolished in 1759, but the foundations can still be seen and much of Shakespeare’s surroundings, including the Guild Chapel remain.
Tourist Information in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Stratford Tourist Information Office 62 Henley Street Stratford Stratford-Upon-Avon
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Henley Street Stratford-Upon-Avon CV37 6QW Phone +44 (0)1789 204016.
Getting to Stratford-Upon-Avon
· By Road
Stratford is easily reached from the motorway network. Junction 15 on the M40 is only 7 miles away. Visitors from South West England and South Wales will find it easier to leave the M5 at Junction 7, which is about 25 miles from Stratford.
· By Rail
There direct services to Birmingham Snow Hill and London Marylebone.
The Birmingham service is hourly and the journey takes just under an hour; trains to London run every two hours and take about 2 hours 15 minutes.
· By Air
The nearest major airports are Birmingham International (27 miles) and London Heathrow (90 miles)