Stratford-upon-Avon is one of my favourite places in England. Jared took me there the first time when I first arrived in London and then we took another trip with a group of people from our church back in 2003. Then about three weeks ago Jared and I once again visited this medieval town and revelled in its history, charm and beauty.
Stratford-upon-Avon is synonymous with William Shakespeare. The famous English writer was born and grew up in this ancient market town in the mid-1500s. For someone from a far-flung country like myself who did read ‘Romeo and Juliet’ growing up, it is fascinating to walk around the little street where Shakespeare was born and wandered as a young boy. Seeing the house where he was born and all the wooden buildings that are still standing today during his time is such an amazing experience.
Above photo is a huge house now called “Shakespeare’s Centre” — the part on the left side was the family home where Shakespeare was born in an upper room in 1564 (apparently there’s no record of his exact birth date). The building has the original floor which William walked around on. The part on the right side was the workshop and shop where William’s father, John Shakespeare, made and sold his gloves.
Shakespeare’s face, name, etc., is everywhere as you walk around town.
On our visit last month we visited Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (above photo) for the first time. It is the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife. Our tour guide shared with us a story how William would walk just about everyday for an hour from his house to get to Anne’s home when he was courting her (today it’s about ten minutes drive to get from Shakespeare House Museum to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage).
Just like the Shakespeare House Museum, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage has a beautiful garden and if you visit in the summer months, it is absolutely beautiful with all types of flowers in full bloom.
Another historic house to visit in this ancient market town is the ‘Harvard House’ — home of a Christian minister, John Harvard (1607–1638), one of the founding fathers of the famous Harvard University. Interestingly, John Harvard’s maternal grandfather Thomas Rogers (1540–1611), was a contemporary and associate of Shakespeare’s father. Both men served on the Borough Council.
I am totally captivated by this 500+ year-old house — the wood carvings, the door with iron work details, its original owners, and just about everything about this building is fascinating.
The black and white building on the left was the school where Shakespeare studied as a little boy; it is now a hotel but the facade is the exact same structure during his time. Notice the street was also that wide in the 15th century.
Anywhere you go around town the famous writer’s name is visible.
I absolutely love all of these black and white Elizabethan houses.
There’s charming little tea houses and coffee shops dotted around the town centre.
As we were leaving I noticed this cute little shop with Christmas tree and other ornaments and I was reminded of home. Back in the Philippines, as soon as September hits you’ll see Christmas decors in the malls.
I always recommend to our family and friends to include Stratford-upon-Avon in their itinerary. Visiting this old town will give visitors the taste of old England and real ‘Englishness’ — if such a thing even exist today. This country has lost its identity and people have no more sense of history and appreciation of its own heritage, but it’s a topic for another day.
Note: Here’s my previous post about our visit to other towns and villages in the Cotswolds.