It’s William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday on April 23. The world’s greatest playwright was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where his memorabilia are well preserved. There are big celebrations planned here, and lovers of literature are already streaming in to raise a toast and commemorate the Bard’s writings.
Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire on the banks of the river Avon is a delightful little town, where the spotlight remains on Shakespeare’s haunts.
- Birthplace – Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a 16th century half-timber Elizabethan house on Henley Street in the town centre, where he spent his formative years. He also spent the first five years of married life in this house with his wife, Anne Hathaway. The house has exhibits covering his life and career, and excellent gardens around. It is a shrine for artists from all over the world.
- Church of the Holy Trinity – This is where Shakespeare was baptized on 26 April 1564, and also buried in the chancel in 1616, next to his wife. The oldest building in Stratford, this is where Shakespeare is believed to have prayed every week while in town. Students from King Edward VI Grammar School, where he studied as a boy, offer quill pens on his grave. His tombstone reads – GOOD FRIEND FOR JESUS SAKE FOREBEAR,
TO DIG THE DUST ENCLOSED HERE!
BLESTE BE THE MAN THAT SPARES THESE STONES,
AND CURSED BE HE THAT MOVES MY BONES.
- New Place – This was the place where the house that Shakespeare died in stood. Shakespeare had bought it once he had become famous as a playwright, and used to live there whenever he was in Stratford. This is also where Shakespeare is believed to have written some of his later works. Next to it is the opulent Nash’s House, house of Thomas Nash, husband of Shakespeare’s daughter Elizabeth. A well preserved Tudor building, it offers insights into the lifestyle and ways of the moneyed of those times.
- Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – The childhood home of Anne Hathaway in Shottery has been preserved with a lot of the the original furniture intact and has a delightful cottage garden and Elizabethan yew maze.
- Hall’s Croft – Hall’s Croft was the luxurious home of Shakespeare’s eldest daughter Susanna and her physician husband Dr John Hall before till Shakespeare’s death. It is a typical 17th century Jacobean home of wealth and splendor, with a pretty rose garden.
- Royal Shakespeare Company – No visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon would be complete without seeing a live performance of the great playwright’s pieces. Check the schedule of the RSC http://www.rsc.org.uk/buy-tickets/l/stratford-upon-avon/ and buy your tickets in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on this.
Celebrations around his birthday bring in performers and artists from around the world to commemorate his life and works. There’s music, drama, sonnet readings, and fireworks all over the place.
Take a Weekend Trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon and see for yourself the town and its beautiful countryside that inspired Shakespeare to become one of the greatest writers of all time.