All the World’s A Stage (Day 1)

Shakespeare Life, Love and LegacyLast weekend I ventured forth from Oxford to Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time. I’ve lived in Oxford for two years now and I just made it the 1.5 hours to the picturesque town of Shakespeare’s birth. What a shame! If I’d known £5 tickets were available for those between 16 and 25 at the Royal Shakespeare Company, I would have been going every month! Alas, I missed my chance.

Unwise as I am in that regard, I did manage to visit the RSC while there to see Shakespeare’s ‘lost play’, Cardenio. If you’re heading through Stratford and you have the chance, I recommend stopping for a cream tea, a climb to the top of the RSC tower, an evening spent in the company of Cardenio at The Swan Theatre and, of course, a visit to the actors’ watering hole, The Dirty Duck.

Now you may think I travelled to Stratford on my own to follow the tourist footsteps and visit all five of the houses clumped together under the ‘Shakepeare Birthplace Trust‘ moniker (that’s party true), but I feel like I took a more wizened, insider route. This isn’t because I did my research or because I am so good at locating local flavour (Stratford is small enough you can’t escape the locals or the tourists). No, I say this because I had a wonderful tour guide in the man himself – the reason so many thousands of people visit this city on the Avon. That’s right – Shakespeare!

Through the photos I took during the trip, he’ll guide you along the same route he took me and maybe you’ll be inspired to visit this magical town full of the poetry of language.

Stop 1: A quick coffee at a lovely cafe by the river where we could watch swans and ducks battle for water rights.

Shakespeare upon Avon

Shakespeare-upon-Avon

Stop 2: Hall’s Croft was the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. This house features a collection of doctor’s equipment and books along with a first edition of his medical notes published in 1657. There are beautiful gardens here and the venue is taking part in an exhibition titled A History of the RSC in 50 Objects, which includes costumes worn by David Tennant in Hamlet (2008) and Sir Patrick Stewart in Anthony and Cleopatra (2006).

Shakespeare in Hall's Croft

Shakespeare in Hall's Croft

Dr. Hall's medical notes published in 1657 (first edition)

Dr. Hall's medical notes published in 1657 (first edition)

Stop 3: A walk along the River Avon, with the Royal Shakespeare Company on the bank.

The tower and theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company

The tower and theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company

Stop 4: Holy Trinity Church and Shakespeare’s tomb

Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church

Shakepeare's grave, alongside that of his wife, Anne Hathaway

Shakepeare's grave, alongside that of his wife, Anne Hathaway

Stop 5: We partake in the cheering of the Stratford Fun Regatta (actual name)

Don't hit the tree!

Don't hit the tree!

Stop 6: All that action left us hungry

Shakespeare eating

nom nom nom

"Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour."

"Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour." (Richard II)

Stop 7: Shakespeare’s Birthplace. This beautiful home has been attracting visitors for more than 250 years. Well-known visitors included Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Keats, Walter Scott and Thomas Hardy. Have a look at the First Folio for yourself!

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Obligatory home photo

Stop 8: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre for an evening performance of Cardenio. I was so impressed by this production and the history behind it that I have been recommending it to everyone I know. The directing, the actors, the stage, the script – it’s a perfect evening that draws you in completely leaving you laughing and empathising with the characters and their situations.

Shakespeare and the RSC

Shakespeare and the RSC

Inside the Swan Theatre

Inside the Swan Theatre

Stop 9: The Dirty Duck pub (formally called The Black Swan). This is the place to watch for actors after any RSC show.

"I would give all my fame for a pot of ale." (Henry V)

"I would give all my fame for a pot of ale." (Henry V)

Shakespeare says: “If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed; If not, ’tis true this parting was well made.” (Julius Caesar)

Alas, we will meet again. Part 2 coming soon!

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  1. […] Day 2 of All the World’s A Stage sees Shakespeare taking us round Stratford-upon-Avon for another experience in literary history. If you missed Day 1, click here. […]



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