Visiting Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford is all about Shakespeare, but exactly what is there to see?

Shakespeare's Statue in Stratford-Upon-Avon</
It's all about Shakespeare in Stratford

Stratford-upon-Avon is all about Shakespeare for the visitor, but exactly what is there to see and how long should you allow? The answer is about the same as how long is a piece of string!

If your visit is aboard a guided coach tour then your trip to Stratford will often not be longer than 90 minutes and you will probably only visit one Shakespeare attraction, the most popular being Shakespeare's Birthplace, conveniently close to the coach park in the centre of town.

If you go independently and are really interested in Shakespeare you will probably need a couple of days to do Stratford and its Shakespeare attractions justice.

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford upon Avon
Shakespeare's Birthplace

Shakespeare's Birthplace and visitor centre/exhibition in Stratford is the number one attraction for day visitors to Stratford.

If you come on a coach tour from London indeed this may be the only Shakespeare attraction you visit.

This half-timbered building in Henley Street, with its extensive ground to the rear, was bought by Shakespeare's father, John, probably in two stages (in 1556 and 1575).

This is the house where Shakespeare and his brothers and sisters were born and brought up.

Open daily, the Birthplace contains an acclaimed exhibition of the poet's life, William Shakespeare: His Life and Background.

You then carry on through the house, which is furnished in period style with many historic manuscripts and books. Finally the tour ends outside in the celebration garden. Sometimes a performance takes place in the garden.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage and gardens

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Anne Hathaway's Cottage

The most picturesque of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust properties. The cottage nests in an idyllic setting of Shottery, a mile west of Stratford.

The cottage belonged to the prosperous Hathaway family and was the premarital home of William Shakespeare's wife, Anne. Although referred to as a cottage, it is actually a substantial, 12-roomed, Elizabethan farmhouse.

You will explore the cottage and the extensive gardens. Part of the building which you explore dates from the mid-15th century, and some of the furniture belonged to the Hathaway’s and their descendants.

The garden is outstanding. Tours of the garden are provided in the summer months. There is the normal gift shop and a tea shop (seasonal) opposite.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage is on the edge of Stratford, which is too far for most people to walk. If you are not visiting by car or on a tour, the best option is probably to use the Stratford hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus that shuttles around all the Shakespeare properties quite frequently during opening hours.

Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon

Built in 1210 on the site of a Saxon monastery, Holy Trinity Church is the oldest surviving building in Stratford. Both William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are buried at Holy Trinity Church.

The church and grounds are free to enter, but there is a charge to see the grave of Shakespeare, who is buried 5 metres below the church.

A monument to Shakespeare, including a bust of the playwright, is mounted on the wall next to the grave. It was made shortly after his death and is considered to be the most authentic portrayal of Shakespeare.

New Place

New Place was Shakespeare's home from 1597 until his death in 1616. It was here after finishing working that Shakespeare retired to. After Shakespeare's death New House survived until 1759 when it was demolished.

Nash's House was owned by Shakespeare's granddaughter's first husband Thomas Nash, a wealthy Stratford property owner. Next to Nash's house is the site of New Place.

The Nash House building you visit has furnishings giving a good indication to how New Place, described in 1540 as a pretty house of brick and timber, would have been furnished.

Where Shakespeare's original house stood next door is a picturesque garden space. The stunning Elizabethan Knot garden, created in 1919-1920 is based on illustrations from garden books of Shakespeare's time, and as far as possible contains plants that would have been familiar to Shakespeare.

Hall's Croft

Halls Croft, Stratford upon Avon
Halls Croft - home to Shakespeare's eldest daughter

Halls' Croft is where Shakespeare's eldest daughter (Susanna), lived with her medical husband, Dr Hall.

You will explore the house and gardens and there is an exhibition about Dr Hall and the medicine of his time.

In the building, on display are outstanding sixteenth and 17th-century furniture and paintings.

Mary Arden's House (Shakespeare's mother)

Three and a half miles outside Stratford and still retaining its country setting in Wilmcote, this timbered Tudor farmhouse is where Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden grew up before marrying John Shakespeare and moving to Henley Street.

It is also home to the Shakespeare countryside museum, two historic farms, displays of farm implements, daily demonstrations by the Heart of England falconry, a blacksmith's forge and a duck pond.

Royal Shakespeare Company Stratford-upon-Avon

Royal Shakespeare Company theatre, Stratford upon Avon
RSC theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Company, founded in 1960 by Peter Hall, boasts the finest actors and directors working on great plays in some of the best theatre spaces in the world.

If you are a serious actor in England, this is the place to be and be seen.

Performances are year round, for tickets and show schedule click through on the link below.

Royal Shakespeare Company theatre - official website

Stratford-upon-Avon hop-on, hop-off bus - getting around Stratford independently

Stratford-upon-Avon hop-on, hop-off bus
Stratford-upon-Avon hop-on, hop-off bus

Like so many tourist towns and cities, a hop on, hop off open top sightseeing bus operates in Stratford.

At Stratford it is particularly useful as a couple of Shakespeare attractions, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's House are well outside walking distance from the town centre.

The bus has ticketing options which includes admissions to the Shakespeare properties. The main starting point of the buses is by the bridge next to the main Tourist Information Centre. For independent visitors there is also a stop very close to the train station.

There are 12 stops including all 5 Shakespeare properties, Holy Trinity Church and the RSC theatres.

You can also purchase a ticket that combines the Ho Ho service with a river cruise on the River Avon.

Frequencies are broadly every 30 minutes with increased frequencies, every 15/20 minutes at the peak times in summer and weekends. During the summer months live guides are available, at other times audio guides are provided (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and Kid's Commentary).



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