We came to Stratford in search of William Shakespeare, and he wasn’t hard to find. Stratford was the bard’s birth place. He married Anne Hathaway here but pretty quickly left for London where he gained fame as an actor and writer. He returned to Stratford at the end of his life, though, and is buried at Holy Trinity Church. We toured several Shakespeare sites. All three were well kept with helpful tour guides. The birth home, in particular, had several costumed interpreters and an excellent exhibition on the Shakespeare’s life. Anne Hathaway’s cottage is the birth home of his wife and is located about a mile outside of town. Shakespeare’s birthplace is in central Stratford. We visited Mary Arden’s farm, the original home of his mother. It was rainy, but we were able to get through the farm with its birds of prey, chickens, and pigs. I had fun looking at the animals and was a little homesick for my chickens. I tested out the video capabilities of my camera and was pretty impressed:
We also made a pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. A church was first mentioned in this spot in 845 AD. The present building dates from 1210 AD. The surrounding churchyard is filled with graves from many different eras. Moss covered stones hug the ground while crosses and obelisks rise above. The spire of the church is visible from everywhere in Stratford. The stained glass window is just above Shakespeare’s grave at the front of the church.
Stratford is along the Avon River and there were long house boats tied up at various places. As we walked along the river, I saw a sign on the window of one of the boats, advertising a book. I couldn’t resist: I knocked on the door and was welcomed in by Jeremy Scanlon and his wife Dorothy. Jeremy is an American who was captivated by the boats and spent many years providing tours through the rivers and canals of England. His book, Innocents Afloat, tells his story. The boat–a 70 foot narrow boat called the Unicorn–was amazing. Long and thin, there was a sitting room, kitchen, bedroom and bath all in a row. The walls under the window were lined with books. He and his wife have a home along the canal but spend a good bit of their time on the boat. I was so glad I knocked on that door! And now I’m hoping to get back some day and do my own tour on a boat.
You can view more photos here.