Saturday 29 May 2021

Shakespeare in Stratford

Here's another post all about something we did years ago (I mean, let's face it, there isn't exactly a huge amount of trips, holidays and visits I can write about from the last 18 months! Fingers crossed for the future though)

So back in April 2015 we added on an extra week to our usual Easter holiday and meandered our way south from North Wales via the Severn Valley Railway and Stratford upon Avon. We used some Tesco Clubcard Vouchers and bought tickets to visit Shakespeare's Birthplace

When we visited the ticket price covered entrance to Shakespeare's Birthplace, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Hall's Croft (which was the home of Shakespeare's daughter, Susanna and her husband) and I think a couple of other locations too. At the moment though, it looks like only the Birthplace, the Cottage and Shakespeare's New Place are opening this summer. 

(In the spirit of transparency as well I'll add a caveat here that I wasn't massively overwhelmed by Shakespeare's Birthplace; I much preferred Hall's Croft. The day we visited it was quite crowded and it felt very much like you were part of a production line following a snake of people around the one way system in the house. I suspect it was a lot to do with how busy it was that day though and it may well be different on another day). 

We only managed to visit Shakespeare's Birthplace and Hall's Croft as Anne Hathaway's Cottage was a short drive from Stratford. The Birthplace itself is a restored 16th century half-timbered house which you can take a tour around and there's also a museum dedicated to all things Shakespeare and literature. The garden outside has been planted with herbs and flowers similar to what would have been growing in Shakespeare's time. We did think it all felt a bit surreal though: 1) because so much of the house has been restored you're left wondering how much is actually still original and 2) the house is on Henley Street which is just a normal street with shops and cafes. And I know obviously the house wasn't surrounded by shops hundreds of years ago but still, it all feels a bit strange. 

The second place we visited was Hall's Croft, the home of Shakespeare's daughter Susanna and her husband John Hall for a few years. We enjoyed this place more than the official Birthplace as it was quieter and actually felt like someone had lived in it, sort of more authentic (rather than feeling a bit too much like a recreated tourist attraction). The building itself has had many different uses even being used a school in the 1800's and it's been restored really well with an excellent garden too. 

It looks like Tesco have temporarily stopped being able to turn Clubcard vouchers into an entry ticket but even though we weren't overwhelmed by the Birthplace, I think we'd still recommend visiting. It's still an interesting place with a lot of history, especially if you're a Shakespeare or literature fan! 

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