Shakespeare's birthplace

The tourist trail, for visitors to England, often goes straight from London to Stratford. This old market town, Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, has become one of the world's most famous tourist centres. From April to October, it attracts thousands of visitors who come to see the poet's life from the cradle to the grave.

Stratford is best explored on foot, and the main points of interest can be seen in a walk taking about two hours. From Shakespeare's birthplace, a half-timbered early 16th century building in Henley Street, the route runs down Bridge Street to Clapton Bridge, built in the 15th century. From the bridge a road on the west bank passes the red brick Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, built in 1932.

The poet was born in the house in Henley Street in 1564. The house was his father's home and workshop, and in Shakespeare's lifetime it was two separate buildings. Built in the early 16th century, it is a typical middle-class dwelling.

The gardens of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre run down to the river bank to Southern Lane and to the tree-lined approach to Holy Trinity Church. This beautiful church overlooking the river is Shakespeare's burial place. His tomb and those of some of his family are marked by simple engraved stones in front of the altar.

Many hotels and shops in Stratford-upon-Avon have been renovated in the half-timbered style, with black beams crisscrossing whitewashed walls. Other buildings have been carefully restored to their original colour. The visitor to Stratford sees much of the town and its surroundings as it was in Shakespeare's lifetime.

Shakespeare never lost touch with his home town, even at the height of his success as a playwright in London. Readers of his plays and poetry will discover that much of his work derives from Stratford-upon-Avon's busy streets and peaceful countryside. As a boy, Shakespeare had on market days noted the manners, dress and speech of tradesmen, farmers, milkmaids, lawyers, and actors who came to perform their plays.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS