Stratford-upon-Avon is a wonderful town and no visit would be complete without a slathering of Shakespeare. It seemed logical to begin at the birthplace of the brilliant bard. William was the third of eight children born to John and Mary who owned the largest house on Henley Street.
The early 16th century building also housed John Shakespeare’s successful glove making business.
William lived here with his wife, Anne Hathaway, for the first five years of their marriage. After John’s death in 1601 William inherited the house and leased part of the property as The Maidenhead Inn. Photos of the interior weren’t allowed but they were as beautifully restored and maintained as the gardens and exterior.
Of course, we exited via the gift shop.
We wandered along Henley Street, the shop windows already shining with Christmas decorations.
The magnificent Tudor buildings have stood the test of time, despite many of them being destroyed by fire four times between 1594 and 1641.
We turned into High Street,
the intricate timber frontage of The Garrick Inn was stunning. Dating back to the 14th century, the oldest pub in town is reputedly haunted.
Next door, Harvard House had an equally impressive façade, adorned with various carvings.
Crossing over Sheep Street, High Street changed its name to Chapel Street. The 4-star Mercure Shakespeare Hotel dates back to 1637 and each room is individually decorated and named after a Shakespearian play or character.
Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Nash in 1626 and they lived in a lovely Tudor house in Chapel Street
with a gorgeous traditional knot garden filled with herbs and aromatic plants.
There were several sculptures depicting characters from the Bard’s plays and poetry.
I don’t know if Thomas enjoyed an ale or two but his house was conveniently close to The Falcon Hotel, built in the early 16th century with a second floor added in 1645.
Further on, the road name changed to Church Street where we encountered a row of almshouses. Built in 1417-18 by the Guild of the Holy Cross for old or needy members of the guild, they were transferred to Stratford upon Avon Corporation in 1553 and enlarged to provide 24 homes for the elderly. Following refurbishment in the mid 1980s, there are now 11 self-contained units .
It wasn’t far before the Shakespeare story continued. William and Anne’s eldest daughter, Susanna (Elizabeth’s mother), married a local physician, John Hall in 1607. The rather impressive Hall’s Croft, built in 1613, was their home.
We were running out of time and so, only briefly stopped at Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Anne was born here in 1556 and lived with her family until she married Shakespeare.
It would have been nice to linger in the beautiful gardens but we were on a mission to visit Mary Arden’s Farm…. but that’s another post.