Shakespeare and Stratford go hand in hand - you cannot visit this pretty Warwickshire town without encountering the Bard. His birthplace, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, New Place, the RSC are essential "must do's' for everyone visiting the town for the first time. Thousands of people every year visit to pay homage to the Bard.
This would not have been possible without the intervention of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Dickens and others in the nineteenth century. They joined forces to save the Birthplace, and other sites in Stratford. Queen Victoria even had dreams of gondoliers on the Avon - this did not succeed!
There are five long, low half timbered buildings known as the Shakespeare houses - all are full Shakespeare memorabilia. You can explore his father's glove makers trade at the birthplace; see the rooms in which Shakespeare lived and the school he attended - as well as the places in which he courted Anne Hathaway.
Not far away is Nash's House/New Place - once the second largest house in the town and where he died. Anne Hathaway's cottage is a picture postcard scene with its pretty thatched cottage and flower garden. Perhaps the most evocative of all are the graves close to the altar in Holy Trinity Church. A quiet grey stone church beside the River Avon, it houses the graves of Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway and his children. Also to be seen in the church is the memorial commissioned by Anne and his children showing Shakespeare as they knew him.
Equally worth seeing are the terracotta sculptures on the walls of the HSBC Bank. These are real gems - long scenes of images from Shakespeare's most famous plays that surround the building on two sides. Above the main door is a gold embossed image of Shakespeare himself, complete with feather quill writing one of his plays.
No visit would be complete without a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Booking on a behind the scenes tour is the best way to really appreciate it as you can hear lots of fascinating tales such as the director who insisted that all his actors should be swimmers - and take a dip in the Avon every day!
The timber floors along the entrance corridors are worth a closer look - these originally formed the stage on which some of the greatest Shakespearean actors such as Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson once trod.
Angela Youngman is a writer and journalist with numerous books linking travel and literary /film sites. She offers some insight into the inspirational factors of many renowned authors.
Her e-books offer an educated peek into some of these past legends, written with spirit and imagination. A resident of the U.K. she is well qualified to traverse the landscape and follow in the footsteps of these literary masters.
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