William Shakespeare, creator of some of the greatest plays of all time, was born on 23 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. You can still visit his lovingly restored birthplace and several sites associated with Shakespeare’s life and family today. Stratford is easily accessible from London by rail (approximately two hours), coach and car.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Shakespeare started to court Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior, when he was eighteen; they had three children – Susanna (born six months after the marriage), and twins Hamnet and Judith. Anne Hathaway lived in the hamlet Shottery – an easy half hour walk from the centre of town. The thatched cottage that was Anne’s home is set in gardens planted with traditional shrubs and flowers from Tudor times.
Hall’s Croft. Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna married the doctor John Hall. Hall’s Croft is a testament to Dr Hall’s wealth and position in society. The gardens hold some of the herbs Hall would have used in his trade; in the house you can see some of the equipment he is likely to have used and a first edition of the medical notes he published in 1657.
Mary Arden’s Farm. Shakespeare’s mother Mary was brought up a short journey from the centre of Stratford – Wilmcote train station is opposite Mary Arden’s Farm. This is a great tourist attraction for children with an adventure playground, woodpecker nature trail and a working farm that replicates many of the traditional methods of farming that would have been used in Shakespeare’s time.
Nash’s House & New Place. Thomas Nash married Shakespeare’s granddaughter. His house has been furnished as it would have been when Nash was alive and is a popular visitor attraction. Shakespeare bought a property called New Place for himself and his family in 1597; it is the house where he died in 1616. Now only the foundations of New Place, next to Nash’s House, remain.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Before becoming a major tourist attraction the residence on Henley Street housed many generations of Shakespeare’s descendants; the house has been open to visitors for over 250 years. Many famous writers have visited Shakespeare’s Birthplace including Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, John Keats and Sir Walter Scott.
The Gower Memorial. In Bancroft Gardens, bordering the River Avon, stands a statue of Shakespeare created by Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower. Four characters from the plays representing major Shakespearean themes surround the statue – Hamlet symbol of Philosophy, Lady Macbeth representing Tragedy, Prince Hal a reminder of History and Falstaff for Comedy.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre. No visit to Stratford is complete without a visit to the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Even if you do not get the chance to see a play you can book a tour of the theatre or get a great view of Stratford from the top of the building’s Tower.
Shakespeare’s Birth Day and Death Day. Shakespeare both came in to and left the world on 23 April. Each year Stratford-upon-Avon hosts a celebration of the Bard’s birth including a parade, music, drama and dance.
Should you wish to learn more about Shakespeare’s Stratford try Shakespeare's Stratford Upon Avon.
If you want to refresh your memory on any of Shakespeare’s plays his complete works, with commentary, are available on Kindle – see the link below for more information.