For great insights into the life and times of the great bard, this itinerary helps you immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. from his birthplace to his schoolroom, from the site of his house and his garden at New Place to his grave. Eat and drink in a pub that was standing before he was born, visit his grandparents’ place, his daughter’s house and and his wife’s parental home. It’s all in the family here.
9am – visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street, a pedestrian precinct usually with buskers and lined with small shops and cafes. The actual Birthplace complex has video presentations and artefacts associated with the man himself, including Shakespeare’s First Folio. Then wander through the rooms to appreciate the life and times of Shakespeare’s day.
Box Brownie next door to the Birthplace or one of the other Henley Street cafes.
11.30am – return to the town centre’s roundabout via Henley Street, then turn right and cross Wood Street to join High Street, lined with timber-framed ‘black and white’ buildings including the imposing Mercure Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Hotel on the left. On the corner of High Street and Chapel Lane is Shakespeare’s New Place, the bard’s last home, where he was a keen gardener, it seems. Now the space has been ‘reimagined’ as a major contemporary landmark.
There’s no shortage of places to eat in Stratford-upon-Avon. So enjoy lunch at one of the many eateries from English tearooms to traditional pubs to fine dining restaurants and cafes. Sheep Street has a wide selection including Lambs Restaurant serving a la carte, set menus and with a gluten-free menu. Try the The Townhouse on Church Street, the atmospheric, timber-framed Garrick Inn, High Street, dating from the 1400s – said to be Stratford’s oldest pub. The Hathaway Tea Room and Bakery is alos on High Street. (Tip: go lighter on lunch if you want to save room for afternoon tea later.)
2.00pm – visit Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall on Church Street (a continuation of High Street) to see how Shakespeare’s early life would have been shaped in the classroom. (His teacher must have done something right in the reading and writing classes.)
3.15pm – turn left down Chapel Lane then right onto Southern Lane to walk to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Other Place for a guided theatre tour. This tour gives access to the rehearsal rooms and costume store.
4.30pm – round off the day with afternoon tea at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s third floor Rooftop Restaurant, or at the Arden Hotel opposite.
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10.15am – take in the views of Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre viewing Tower.
10.45am – walk to the Swan Theatre in the Gothic building attached to the main RSC to see the ‘The Play’s The Thing’ exhibition. See treasures from the theatre’s archive and museum collection, including costumes and rarely-seen props. Also original set designs alongside hands-on activities and digital interactive displays.
12 noon – walk along Southern Lane to Holy Trinity Church to visit Shakespeare’s Grave.
Maybe a light lunch at Hall’s Croft Café, located in the Jacobean manor house of Susanna, Shakespeare’s eldest daughter, a few minutes’ walk from Holy Trinity Church. Or, walk back along Southern Lane to Waterside (where the theatres and boats are) and look for a lunch spot, try Carluccio’s, Cox’s Yard by the river or an eatery on Sheep Street.
1.30pm – visit Hall’s Croft and appreciate the polished furniture, paintings and apothecary equipment similar to that used by Dr John Hall, husband of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna. It’s a calm house with a lovely atmosphere and gardens featuring medicinal herbs and a rose garden.
2.30pm – Row a boat on the River Avon, take boat trip or just relax in the gardens beside the river. OR drive to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and gardens at Shottery, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife. OR visit Mary Arden’s Farm, great for families.
In the mood for shopping? Bonds on the outskirts of Stratford on the Evesham Road is a cafe and lifestyle interiors and antiques store with gifts and collectables. A real mix of old and new, open seven days.
Staying another night? Sign up for the Stratford Town Ghost Walk or see a play (book ahead- tickets are especially scarce this summer). Or just relax in one of the many pubs and bars – cocktails at the Townhouse, perhaps?
For events see Shakespeare’s England.