I am lucky enough to live less than five miles from the historic English town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of the famous playwright William Shakespeare. The town is exceedingly pretty, full of old English charm, while at the same time having a modern touch. I have to admit that I am not overly keen on the recent replacement of the beautiful old gardens, with a new and modern 'Italian Piazza', although I guess that is just a matter of taste. Whether you come to Stratford-Upon-Avon for a short trip or a long stay, one thing that you will not want to miss out on is the rich heritage the town has to offer, mostly revolving around that famous playwright, William Shakespeare. Below are a few of the highlights of this beautiful town - a town I consider myself lucky to be able to visit at any time I like.
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)
It would be shame not to catch a play while you are in Shakespeare's country, and there are no better productions than those of the RSC. Whether the play takes place in the recently renovated Royal Shakespeare Theatre or the smaller Swan Theatre, you are guaranteed a first class performance. A programme of performances and online booking can be found here.
The Shakespeare Properties
A number of building with historic significance to William Shakespeare himself are scattered around the town. Shakespeare's Birthplace is easily the most popular of the heritage sites (pictured below), but other buildings which can also be visited are Nash's House and New Place, where Shakespeare lived during his later years, Anne Hathaway's cottage, where Shakespeare's wife lived prior to their wedding in 1582 and also Mary Arden's House, that of Shakespeare's mother, which lies around 3 miles outside the town.
The Falstaff's Experience
This slightly lesser-known attraction is a 'living museum', aimed at giving visitors a good impression of what Tudor life would have consisted of. You can walk along the only remaining cobbled road in Stratford, to Tudor World, where you can learn about the Tudor history of Stratford and England in a lifelike manner. You can find the Falstaff's Experience website here.
The Holy Trinity Church
As well as being the place where both William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are buried, the church is a beautiful old building, set back from the canal behind beautiful gardens. Nearby is a brass-rubbing centre, where adults and children can take prints of old coins.
And There's More...
Stratford-Upon-Avon really is a lovely town. It can also offer a butterfly farm, the 'Shakespearience', which uses computer-imagery and special effects to educate about Shakespeare's life, plus a beautiful canal, along which you can take a boat ride or eat a meal on one of the restaurant boats. In the summer you will find an array of street performers in the park. There are plenty of old British pubs, the most famous being the 'Dirty Duck', known to be the bar that the actors and actresses are likely to drink in after a show. If you come along for a visit, I would love you to let me know what you think!