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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Stratford upon Avon

About 15  miles away from where we were staying in the Cotswolds is Stratford upon Avon, famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. A mile or so outside the town in the village of Shottery is the childhood home of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife.

It is a well preserved 16th cent Tudor farmhouse. The house remained in the Hathaway family until 1846 when financial problems meant they had to sell but the family continued to live in the house as tenants when it was bought by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust until the last surviving member of the family died in 1910. Being within the family meant that very few alterations had been made to the property. A fire in the late 60s badly damaged part of the cottage which the Trust restored.
The thatched roof is so thick and looks as though it has been replaced in the last few years. Thatching generally lasts from 20 to 60 years depending on the type of vegetation originally used and its exposure to severe weather conditions.

Although this bed has gone through various renovations it still has the features of a late 16th cent or early 17th cent bed, This was probably the 'best bed' in the house to be used by guests.

The headboard is decorated with inlaid parquetry typical of the 1580s/90s. On either side of the parquetry is a carved figure playing a musical instrument

This bed was also owned by the Hathaway family. It is a rare example of a bed from the 1500s and is possibly the 'second best bed' that William gave to Anne in his will.Along with the bed Anne would also have received a large sum of money following his death. The best bed is likely to have been the visitor's bed so the second best would have been the marital bed.

The farmhouse would have had a number of fires in the house to keep it warm but in the kitchen next to the fire was an oven probably used for bread making.

 The house looked beautiful in the sunshine with its large vegetable garden. In the extended garden is a small sculpture area. One was a wicker structure where you could sit and listen to Shakespeare's sonnets. Didn't take any photos as I was too busy soaking up the atmosphere.

(google image)

Our next stop was Stratford upon Avon and we were just in time to visit Shakespeare's home before it closed. Shakespeare's father was the Mayor of the town and lived in this large house which is actually three houses made into one.

His father was a tanner and we were shown how his father would have tanned animal skins to make gloves. He was a very skilled man and made a range of gloves  from fine kid to rougher workmen's gloves. Urine would have been used in the tanning process and the smell from the tannery would have permeated the house.

Walking around the house it is interesting to see how colourful and decorative the cloth is that hangs on the walls.

The Birthplace Trust has recreated the decor as it would have been during Shakespeare's time.The trust was set up in 1847 to prevent the American showman P.T. Barnum from buying the property and shipping it home 'brick by brick'. The Trust was helped by having the backing of Charles Dickens who helped to raise the £3000 needed to buy the property.

This  window was formally in the birthroom. It became traditional for pilgrims to etch their name into the glass as a symbol of their visit. The earliest recorded date is 1806. I think one of the names is that of Dickens but I couldn't find it.

The town is built by the River Avon and next to the river is the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre. I had booked the tickets months ago to make sure we could experience everything Stratford has to offer by attending the theatre in the evening.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre riverside view 2010 by Peter CookWe saw one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays, Cymbeline which was also being filmed that night to be shown live in cinemas throughout the UK. It would never rate as one of my favourite Shakespeare plays but it was a good experience and made the day in Stratford that bit more special.


  1. Been there years ago but I have been meaning to visit the place again

  2. Thanks for sharing this world treasure

  3. We didn't get to Stratford when we were in the Cotswolds but we did have dinner at a pub in Chipping Camden with a woman farmer who came there often to escape the tourists in Stratford. We had lots of questions for her about the farms we'd seen in our walk.

  4. What an interesting place to visit! Thanks for the photos and information.

  5. Wonderful place - I seem to recall going there on a school trip in the dim and distant past!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  6. Very interesting post, nice to read all the history.

  7. Oh wow...be still my heart. A dream of mine is to see for real Shakespeare's Stratford O. A.

    I love to quote and read anything Shakespeare.

  8. Being filmed to be shown live? That is incredibly cool. Our little Shakespeare company has become so expensive that I haven't seen a show in years. I'm sure they've done Cymbeline as they've done Titus a few times. I think I'd spend as much time in the kitchen as possible. Is the house cooler than most in the summer?

  9. Being filmed to be shown live? That is incredibly cool. Our little Shakespeare company has become so expensive that I haven't seen a show in years. I'm sure they've done Cymbeline as they've done Titus a few times. I think I'd spend as much time in the kitchen as possible. Is the house cooler than most in the summer?

  10. First time I have seen anything "personal" from Shakespeare :) Thanks for the tour. :)

  11. Wonderful and informative post and neat photos ~ you do travel a bit it seems ~ thanks,

    Wishing you a delightful week ~ ^_^

  12. You've shown us a great piece of classic English life here.

  13. Great photos and wonderful to see buildings so well preserved after so many years. I shudder at the idea of someone purchasing that house and moving it elsewhere as a tourist attraction!

  14. Doesn't look like a bad place.
    Coffee is on

  15. Wonderful shots. The home is well preserved.

  16. Wow - such delightful cottages and shots.

  17. It seems as if you are visiting the same places I did 3 years ago on my UK tour !

  18. It's about 40 years ago that I visited Stratford upon Avon and Shottery, even though I have to admit to not being a Shakespeare fan. Of course non of it looks any different and the authorities obviously do a good job in preserving the places for the many thousands of tourists.

  19. It would be wonderful to see any of his plays right there in Stratford Upon Avon -- great tour, thank you for sharing. I didn't realize about the 'best-bed' for company. Now that makes sense. (And too bad for the commpany in our house who get the fold-out-sofa ))


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