Thursday, 23 May 2013


Today we visited Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare's country, steeped in culture and history. Set in the beautiful rural Warwickshire countryside, on the banks of the river Avon. 

The Gower Memorial of Shakespeare's characters.

The Avon River which runs through the town of Stratford.

The Chain Ferry built in 1937 and the last of it's kind in England. The ferryman turns a chain drive which pulls the ferry across to the other side of the river. 

Holy Trinity Church is renowned for being the last resting place of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s funerary monument, on the chancel wall above his tomb, was erected before 1623, and is said to be a life-like representation of the great man. The monument, by Gerard Johnson, features a bust of the poet, who holds a quill pen in one hand and a piece of paper in another. The playwright, who was also baptised in the church, is buried in the chancel alongside the remains of his wife Ann Hathaway and his daughter Susanna. An inscription reads: “Good friend, for Jesus' sake forebeare To dig the dust enclosed heare; Bleste be the man that spares thes stones, And curst be he that moves my bones." Some say the curse has prevented the removal of Shakespeare's bones to Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. 

Hall's Croft the home of Shakespeare's daughter.

Some of the many amazing buildings in the old town at Stratford.

Guild Chapel one of Stratford’s best-known buildings. Situated on the corner of Chapel Lane and Church Street, it overlooks the site of New Place, Shakespeare’s Stratford home, in which he died, in April 1616. The story begins in 1269, when one of Stratford’s religious guilds, the Guild of the Holy Cross, obtained permission to build a hospital in the town for poor priests of the diocese. The chancel of the Guild Chapel incorporates portions of the original building which, within a few years was taken over by the Guild for its own use, both for meetings of members, and a place where priests could say prayers for the safety of members’ souls when they died. The Guild prospered during the fifteenth century, building a new guild hall, a school and almshouses for the aged and infirm members. In the 1490’s, Hugh Clopton, a native of the town who had made his fortune as a mercer in London, left money in his will for major rebuilding work on the chapel, represented today by the nave, tower and porch. At the same time the interior was lavishly decorated with wall-paintings, substantial traces of which remain, notably the Doom over the chancel arch. The impressive Doom, painted above the chancel arch, is one of the largest surviving versions of its kind in Britain. It is the largest surviving fragment of a series of frescoes, painted in the late fifteenth century, which lined the wall of the chapel, depicting, among other religious topics, the legend of the Holy Cross, St George and the Dragon, the martyrdom of St Thomas Beckett and the Dance of Death. Covered over by layers of whitewash after the Reformation, the paintings were rediscovered during building work in 1804 and recorded by the antiquary Thomas Fisher. Few survived the renovations of the nineteenth century, but in 1955 when the gallery was removed, those surviving came to light. Many are protected by the panelling in the nave, and an extensive “Mememto Mori” at the base of the tower arch is occasionally revealed behind hinged panels. 

Nash's House & New Place - Purchased by William Shakespeare in 1597 for the sum of £60, the house at that time was the 2nd largest building in Stratford. At the time of purchase he was working in London and did not take up permanent residence until 1610, his time there however was to be short lived as he died 6 years later in 1616. The last occupant of New Place was a Clergyman, he was the Rev. Francis Gastrell, a man of strange behaviour. Following a dispute with Stratford inhabitants he burned New Place to the ground, following this the townspeople drove him out of the town with a threat that any person of that name would not be allowed to live in the town. Now a replica Elizabethan Knott Garden occupies the site, with some of the foundations of New Place visible. Shakespeare Memorial Garden tended and administered by the Birthplace Memorial Trust occupies the site of the New Place kitchen garden and orchard, it is believed that Shakespeare spent many hours here during his latter years relaxing in the tranquil surroundings. The large Mulberry tree is said to be a cutting from the original tree of Shakespeare’s time. Nash's House, a property inherited by Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna Hall. 

The Mercure Hotel.

The Shrieves House & Barn is the oldest lived in house in Stratford and also the most haunted building in England, it has featured on many paranormal shows on TV. The side view is above and front view below.

More beautiful buildings along the shopping streets of Stratford.

For all those who teased about the weather please see the blue sky in the above photos shining down on the tulips in the roundabout. 

William Shakespeare’s Birthplace situated in Henley Street is the half timbered building where William Shakespeare was born and was the house where William and his brothers and sisters were brought up. The building was acquired by his father John in two transactions in 1556 and 1575, it is thought that he was a tenant in one part or possibly both. The birth room was a chamber above the parlour. Alterations created a separate single bay house when this was added to the original structure and was now known as ‘Joan Harts’ cottage. In later years the main house was leased out to Lewis Hiccox who converted it to an inn known as the ‘Maidenhead ’ and later to be known as ‘The Swan and Maidenhead’. The front view above and the backyard is below.

We also visited Magic Alley for some fun of the magical kind.

Dorothy's magical red slippers from the Wizard of Oz.

The sorting hat from the Harry Potter series.

Can you see anyone in the magical mirror.

Hathaway Hamlet cottages.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage.

This is our B & B accommodation for tonight.

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