Last year July, my momsi and I visited Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time. Ever since I started this writing journey, I wanted to visit the town where Shakespeare lived because there’s something magical about seeing the home of a writer. It’s like visiting an ancestor’s home because if you think about it, these past writers are every writers’ writer-ancestor.
Stratford-upon-Avon canal and the River Avon Boat Ride
On the first day, we went on a canal boat ride along the Stratford-upon-Avon canal and the River Avon. During the tour, we were told about the history of the canal and the River Avon while ducks and swans swam close by. It was such a peaceful and relaxing ride that I didn’t want the journey to end.
Gower Memorial – Shakespeare’s Memorial
After the boat ride, we explored Shakespeare’s Memorial, which was created by Lord Ronald Gower. This memorial has a statue of Shakespeare sitting on a pedestal while surrounded by sculptures of Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Prince Hal, and Falstaff. Can you guess which sculpture I’m standing beside? I’ll give you a clue: The name begins with an H.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Sadly, we didn’t watch a play in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, but we did take pictures, and we had a quick look at the entrance area. I’m hoping I can watch one of the plays the next time I visit.
City SightSeeing Stratford-upon-Avon Hop On Hop Off Bus
The next day we explored the Shakespeare homes and attractions. Most of the attractions are within walking distance, but because of the weather (it rained) and that some of the places, such as Anne Hathaway’s cottage, aren’t in walking distance, we rode on the City SightSeeing Stratford-upon-Avon Hop On Hop Off bus. While on the bus, we enjoyed a talk on the history of Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare and the Shakespeare homes and attractions. Fun fact: the phrase ‘left on the shelf’ comes from a time when unmarried girls had to sleep on ledges. The seats on the tour bus were comfortable, but sadly, we couldn’t sit on the upper deck because of the rain. If you do visit Stratford-upon-Avon, I do recommend you travel on the Hop On Hop Off bus.
Our first stop was Shakespeare’s Birthplace. In here (once we figured out how to get into the building) we were able to explore the house where Shakespeare was born and grew up in, we saw rare artefacts, and we were treated to a live outdoor performance of some of Shakespeare’s plays.
After visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace, we jumped onto the Hop On Hop Off bus and headed to Hall’s Croft. Hall’s Croft is the 17th-century house where Shakespeare’s eldest daughter, Susanna, and her husband, Dr John Hall, lived. It was interesting to see the doctor’s office where he would see and treat his patients. And I could have happily stayed in the tranquil walled garden.
Holy Trinity Church
Once we were finished exploring Hall’s Croft, we made our way to the Holy Trinity Church. This church is where William Shakespeare was baptised, worshipped, and buried. You can tell from looking at this building that it is rich in history. For centuries many people have walked through those doors, and one of those people was Shakespeare himself. Now, while the outside of the church is impressive, the inside is breathtakingly beautiful. I couldn’t help but gasp when I stepped inside, and my eyes scanned the room trying to absorb all of the fine details. If you ever visit this church, then do bring a camera. When I finished taking pictures, I then made my way towards the main attraction: Shakespeare’s grave.
To see Shakespeare’s grave, you have to go through to the Chancel. To do this you do have to pay, but it only costs three pounds, so I didn’t mind paying. Before walking into the Chancel, I entered the St. Peter’s Chapel. Standing alone in that chapel, I felt a sense of peace and hope. It’s a great place for an overworked mind. After a moment of peaceful thinking, I headed into the Chancel. The chancel is another magnificent room. I had only expected to see Shakespeare’s grave, so I was surprised to see that Shakespeare was buried next to his wife and other members of his family. Thanks to my overactive imagination, I imagined Shakespeare and his family were standing behind me. It was while I was here that I was inspired to write my story titled, ‘Like Shakespeare’.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
The last place we visited on our Shakespeare adventure was Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, once lived in this 500-year-old thatched farmhouse. Sadly, due to the poor weather, we couldn’t thoroughly explore the cottage gardens, but we have vowed to return, so we can see more of this cottage.
What I Bought
Of course, I couldn’t leave Stratford without buying anything, so I bought a pink pen, a pink bookmark, a keyring (I love keyrings – I have loads), a little teddy from the Holy Trinity Church, and a pink dip pen. When I first saw the dip pen, I wasn’t going to buy it because of the cost, but it had pink ink – yes, pink ink – so, I couldn’t resist. I’ve decided to use it for my future book signings – I hope the ink lasts until then.
I really enjoyed my time in Stratford-upon-Avon, and I am looking forward to going back – there are still some houses we didn’t get to explore such as Shakespeare’s new place and Mary Arden’s Farm, and we need to revisit Anne Hathaway’s cottage. The area itself was lovely, and the people are friendly. So if you want to go on an inspiring break, then I do recommend you visit Stratford-upon-Avon. I know I’ll be going back.
Have you ever visited Stratford-upon-Avon? If you have, then let me know, I’d love to hear your experiences.
Keep writing, folks!