Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace interior

A day in Stratford-upon-Avon with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare bestowed upon the world a love for literature, producing nearly 200 known works in his lifetime.

In sleepy Stratford-upon-Avon, you can discover snippets of his world. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust presents a variety of attractions in the area. Here, visitors can discover the literary great and are taken on a journey through Shakespeare’s life. 

The adult annual pass includes all five properties and is only £22.50, allowing for unlimited visits within 12 months!

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust attractions include:

  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace 
  • Shakespeare’s New Place
  • Mary Arden’s Farm
  • Hall’s Croft
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Discover Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon’s town centre. This grand Tudor home presents a living museum of Shakespeare’s childhood and a timeline of his life and work. 

As you enter, explore the Famous Beyond Words exhibition where you will be presented with informative videos, artwork and memorabilia dedicated to the playwrights greatest works and a variety of fascinating artifacts. 

Finally, you will move on to the properties beautifully landscaped gardens. Here, you can learn more about Shakespeare’s plays on a 9 metre interactive wallbook, immerse yourself in live performances by actors on request and become mesmerised by talks and workshops within the home on Shakespeare’s family life and his father’s glove making business. 

Afterwards, be sure to check out the giftshop for beautiful stationery and books. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place allows visitors to wander around the site of the playwrights final property, where he died in 1616. 

Although the original home no longer stands, the re-established neighbouring property presents a fascinating exhibition with artwork and artefacts. Surprisingly, this includes a signet ring believed to have been owned by William Shakespeare himself!

Finally, take time to appreciate the restored sunken Knot Garden and the large landscaped Elizabethan Great Garden. Here you will discover plenty of places to take a moment and reflect on his life.

The Great Garden is also home to grand and enchanting series of commissioned bronze statues by Greg Wyatt dedicated to Shakespeare’s famous works. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Mary Arden's Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Today, it is still a charming working Tudor farm and only a short drive outside the town centre. 

Onsite, admire the varied livestock and enjoy live action performances by actors in period costumes. See falconry and goose herding demonstrations, as well as being able to take part in a wealth of interactive activities and educational talks.

This expansive 23-acre farm is delightful to stroll around. Expect historic buildings, lush greenery and plenty of hidden treasures to be found. 

Enjoy watching butterflies in wild flower and fauna embellished meadows, reignite your childish side and climb the viewing tower, spot carved wooden animals hidden within the trees and crawl through lengthy willow domed structures.

On departing, the gift shop offers wholesome local produce and pretty trinkets. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Hall's Croft

Hall’s Croft

Hall’s Croft is the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband, physician, John Hall. 

Once inside, step along creaking wooden floorboards to discover their family home and life and follow walls and rooms lined with medicinal herbs and vials. Once upstairs, you will also find the beautifully crafted The Bard’s Rest sofa centrepiece upstairs.

You can also enjoy the Method in Madness and Living with History exhibitions. 

Method in Madness delves into medicinal practice and use in late 16th and early 17th century. It details how John Hall would have worked and how doctors understood the body and mind to function during this time.

Here, you will learn about medical advancements, see the garish tools used to operate and authentic apothecary and uroscopy stations. 

Living with History is found within the onsite Hall’s Croft Cafe. It presents life in Stratford-upon-Avon, past and present, through the eyes of local documentary photographer, William Mulryne. 

Once you have finished admiring the photography take a moment in the Hall’s Croft walled garden brimming with medicinal herbs or even enjoy some tea and cake at the cafe. 

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife and is a short drive outside the town centre. Here, Shakespeare courted a young Anne Hathaway and the pair soon fell in love. 

The property was originally a farmhouse and the family reared sheep on its 90-acre land. Unfortunately, as we set off a little later in the day, we had to miss Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. 

However, if you set off early, all of these attractions are more than doable in a day! Although, if you miss one like me, the annual pass also allows you to return on a later date!

Thus, I shall certainly be returning to visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage soon. 

Have you discovered Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon? What is your favourite piece of work by Shakespeare?

Stephanie xox

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Shakespeare's Globe exterior, LondonKing Lear Review, Shakespeare’s Globe

The story of King Lear is a classic tale of familial love, betrayal and madness – a true tragedy in all its elements that will have you questioning humanity.

Shakespeare’s Globe theatre is currently running the show as a highlight of their Summer of Love 2017 season – and it is a play that should not be missed.

A production of Nancy Meckler, this tumultuous performance is a true work of magic, in the midst of tragedy you are presented also with a night of incredible and sometimes crude comedy, quick retorts and clever wit. The crowd bellowing with hearty laughter and the sound and light effects encouraging wonderful chaos.

It makes for an eclectic atmosphere on a darkening summer evening and is presented by a stellar cast of skilled and fascinating actors. Kevin McNally, who plays King Lear makes for fantastic viewing, emulating the deteriorating King in such a way it makes you feel as if he was an older relative slowly descending into madness.

The King is propped up by his loyal Fool (played by the incredible Loren O’Dair) throughout, who appears far wiser with jibes, clever tricks and incredible humour and sorrow as you make your way through the story.

The acting brings to the forefront an array of emotions, as you relate with the erratic King, pitying him, willing for it not to end in tragedy. Alas, this is Shakespeare and we all know the end to this tale.

Shakespeare's Globe interior, London

Summer of Love season 2017, London

The performance is a well-rounded affair of joy and sorrow, tragedy remains at its core and this comes to a head, as expected, during the second half. The entire cast are passionate, some doting and others truly villainous, presenting themselves in role as perfect examples of their at times questionable traits.

I must say, my only vice was the costuming, which was presented in a half-hearted combination of period costumes and modern sportswear shoes. Quite peculiar to say the least but the show must go on.

King Lear is the perfect date night treat, suited for a more adult audience. I would thoroughly recommend the evening performance to experience the full spectacle of the accompanying light and sound effects. I would also recommend standing for a truly authentic experience.

King Lear is running until the 14th October, 2017. For a sneak preview of the themes within the play, take a look here.

Are you a fan of King Lear? Have you ever been to Shakespeare’s Globe?

Stephanie xox

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