Guest Author - Ann Carroll Burgess
To visit England, without making a pilgrimage to Shakespeare’s birthplace should be unthinkable.
For almost five centuries, the works of the bard have made us laugh, cry and even learn history in an entertaining fashion. The playwright is justified his due homage with a trip to his home at Stratford on Avon.
It is a mere 91 miles NW of London, easily accessed by train from either London or Birmingham. From London, the roundtrip cost is approximately 40 pounds, although it can be cheaper if purchased in advance. The duration of the trip from London is about 2 ½ hours, more than an hour’s less than the driving time required.
The National Express also operates a bus service from the Victoria Station in London, the cost is much less at about 25 pounds round trip, but it takes 4 hours to make the trip.
Stratford is a quite walkable town, so don’t worry about transport when you arrive. However, if you feel it may be too tiring to walk to all the sites, there is a Hop On, Hop Off tour available. Tours depart every 15 to 30 minutes and you can stop at any of the five Shakespeare related house stops.
Stratford is a very good place to experience “ye olde” England with its abundance of historical houses, half-timbered houses, thatched cottages and cobbled streets.
A good place to begin your tour is on Henley Street with a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, where you can see where he spent his first five years and learn about his family. His father, John, was a glove maker. This is a lively place to visit as Shakespeare some of Shakespeare’s characters are brought to life by actors as you stroll through the house and grounds, you may even want to take part!
Admission to Shakespeare's Birthplace now includes FREE entry to Hall's Croft and Nash's House, as part of the Shakespeare Town House Ticket! Admission is 14 pounds per adult.
On Chapel Street you may want to take time to visit New Place, where a prosperous Shakespeare retired to and spent the last years of his life.
Holy Trinity Church is where Shakespeare is buried. He died on his birthday, April 23, 1616, at age 52. Shakespeare’s wife Anne is buried beside him along with other members of his family. The church is free to visit, but to view the grave there is a charge of 2 pounds.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage has been in the Hathaway family possession for many years and as a result it was never seriously renovated, so it affords a rare insight into family life in the 16th century. Many original furnishings remain including the bench on which Shakespeare is said to have wooed the young Anne.
Plan for an overnight, or a very late train back to London so that you can take in a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company, whose season typically runs from April to November. Even if you cannot take in a performance you can still tour the threat ere that includes a glimpse of behind the scenes.
Be sure to cast a look at the Visit Britain website for the most current information on admission times, fees, rail information and very good deals on visiting the historic site of England.