Shakespeare’s Birthplace at Stratford-on-Avon

When we visited Oswestry so Jack could go to a football match last month we decided to stay a couple of nights near Stratford too. We had visited Stratford-on-Avon a few times before but hadn’t visited Shakespeare’s birthplace before. This time around we had free entry via Art passes we had been given at Christmas so we thought it would be daft not to visit. The photo below is from the back, there were some actors putting on a bit of one of his plays just to the side of the house.

Shakespeare's House

Below is the house from the front, there’s a wide pedestrianised road between it and the houses opposite which look about the same age.

Shakespeare's House

Below is a photo of the room that Shakespeare was born in although it isn’t the actual bed. The wee oval wooden baby’s crib is of the correct period though, and seeing it I realised for the first time why they were called basinettes in those days as it looks just like a basin.

The small truckle bed was for the boys to sleep in after they outgrew the crib. The ropes look nice and tight for a good night’s sleep. Apparently the girls in those days didn’t have anything so luxurious,they just had to sleep on the ground – typical!

Shakespeare's House

As the boys grew older they moved into the room below, their parents’ bedroom is through the doorway to the left.
Shakespeare's House

A different bedroom is below, they seem to be fond of red and green bed hangings. I wonder if that was the colour of his famous second best bed that he left to Ann Hathaway.
Shakespeare's House

Shakespeare’s father was a glover and below is his small workroom which is on the ground floor of the house.

Shakespeare's House

Although the crib on the left hand side looks very old I gather from the guide that it isn’t original, it’s very cute though. I love the dark carved chest too.

Shakespeare's House

I’ve always had a hankering to have a split door like this one – well maybe not so craggy. I’m not sure what you call them, I think I thought they were called farm doors but I’ve recently heard them described as being Dutch doors. My brother in Holland certainly has one for his front door.

Shakespeare's House

Below is another view of the house from the back. We were quite lucky that it wasn’t too busy when we went around the house. We did try to visit Ann Hathaway’s house earlier but just as we parked the car a tour bus turned up so we decided to give it a miss as it would have been very crowded. If you’re interested in my previous post on Stratford have a look here. Amazingly it was way back in 2012 when I did that one – how time flies.

Shakespeare's House

There’s a lovely old window in the house and over the years lots of famous visitors have scratched their names into the glass, but sadly they didn’t show up in the photo.

Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, England

I had been told not to bother going to visit Stratford-on-Avon but as it is only eight miles or so from Alcester were we were staying and I’ve always been keen on Shakespeare, we definitely didn’t want to miss it out, even if it was a tourist hell.

Actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Yes there were legions of schoolkids from all over the world it seemed but it wasn’t as tacky as I thought it would be. We didn’t do the touristy things though so – no Anne Hathaway’s cottage for us. Shakespeare’s birthplace is more or less in the centre of the town though and we were walking past it when Jack noticed the sign – so here it is.

Strangely it doesn’t seem to be open to the public, maybe the wear and tear on it would be just too much.

Shakespeare's birthplace

This photo is of a fairly modern theatre which is more or less slap bang next to Shakespeare’s birthplace, definitely incongruous looking but you often get that in Britain and I don’t suppose places really should be preserved in aspic, modern life goes on. Anyway, I really like this motif which is decorating the front of the theatre.

modern  motif

This terrace of houses is right opposite The Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre and I wanted a photo of them just because of the amazing tree like climbing plant which is spread across them. It looks hundreds of years old, I wonder what it is.

Tree on house

It was still chucking it down with rain on and off but we were determined to have a good walk along by the river. I love bridges, old and new.

river & swans

I also love the old wooden building on the right of this photo. It must originally have been some sort of boating pavillion I think, in Edwardian times, very stylish. Now it’s a Thai restaurant!

bridge at Stratford

I have a penchant for fountains, old and new so I had to snap this one which is close to the river and theatre. Swans are a popular theme.

swan sculpture

A modern bandstand. I’m keen on bandstands although I prefer the old Edwardian ones and I once intended to go about photographing them in public parks, before they all got pulled down, but I never did get around to it. This one is quite stylish despite being modern.

bandstand

These scullers went past us at an incredible pace, I’m quite surprised that it came out at all. I hope they never fall in the river because the Avon is fairly manky. For some reason English rivers seem to be very polluted compared with Scottish rivers. I think the English water authorities must be putting a lot of unmentionable stuff into them. It’s a real shame. As you can see the area around the river is well planted with weeping willow trees, they grow so well in damp areas and I think they’re favourites with just about everyone.

scullers

So that’s Stratford. The town itself is fairly big and has the usual chains of shops that you see everywhere but I’m really not interested in shopping nowadays as I’m trying to de-clutter, not accumulate more stuff. Stratford was nicer than I thought it would be.

It was when I was looking at Shakespeare’s birthplace that I remembered that Anne Hathaway had been 30 years old when she married the 18 year old William – a shotgun wedding of course. It would be described as child abuse by quite a lot of people nowadays and must have caused a lot of gossip in Stratford at the time. In those days a 30 year old unmarried woman was very much an old maid and ‘on the shelf’. I’m just mentioning this because Lisa May over at TBR 313 was writing about couples who had large age gaps between them and I had forgotten about William and Anne. Of course that marriage wasn’t exactly a successful one.