Home to the world famous playwright William Shakespeare, Stratford Upon Avon is one of the most historic towns in the country; with people from all over the globe visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace each year. There’s more to Stratford than the famous wordsmith, so read our guide to the top 5 places to visit in Stratford Upon Avon.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, not only boasts the absolute finest in theatre productions of the Bard’s and other playwright’s works but a stunning roof top restaurant and bar where you can enjoy pre and post performance drinks and meals.
Even if the latest production is fully booked, you can enjoy the facilities of this beautiful and well appointed theatre including a tour that will take you up the thirty-six foot tower offering panoramic views of Stratford. There are also activities such as ‘Play Cart’ laid on to introduce children to the work of the world’s most famous and best dramatist: www.rsc.org.uk
The Tudor World museum has won numerous awards. It is located in the home of Shakespearian comic character John Falstaff who was indeed a real Stratfordian. The museum transports visitors back to the sixteenth century – complete with the smells of the day. The various tours are conducted by guides in full Shakespearian regalia and include one led by the bard himself and a spooky latern light evening tour of this allegedly haunted Shrieve’s house. For opening times and tour information visit: www.falstaffexperience.co.uk
The Shakespeare Properties
The story of Shakespeare comes to life in the houses that were key in his own history. These include the cottage of Ann Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife to whom, in his will, he left “the second best bed,”; the house where Mary Arden, his mother, grew up; his daughter Susannah’s home, Hall’s Croft; Shakespeare’s birthplace and New Place where the poet and playwright lived for almost twenty years until his death in 1616. For details of opening hours visit: www.shakespeare.org.uk
Stratford Butterfly Farm
The Stratford Butterfly farm opened its doors in 1985. Within, there is the caterpillar room where you can learn about the life cycle of moths and butterflies. Here you will find eggs and pupae that bear absolutely no resemblance to the beautiful, colourful creatures they are destined to become. Insect city is where you can observe ant colonies, exotic beetles as well as stick insects and a hole host of other creepy crawlies. You may even leave with a new found love of bugs!
The central attraction though, is the Flight Area. This is where you will see butterflies of all colours of the rainbow – around 250 different species – in their full fluttering glory. At any one time there are approximately 1,500 of the creatures free in the landscaped greenhouse.
From January to March, opening times are 10am to 5pm. From April to September the centre closing time is 6pm and October to December closing is at 5pm: www.butterflyfarm.co.uk
Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church is the site of Shakespeare’s Baptism, that of his children and his and Ann Hathaway’s final resting place. Building work began on the cross shaped church in 1210, though there is good evidence, from texts such as the charter of 845 that a place of Christian worship had stood there long before this permanent structure was begun.
There is so much to see at Holy Trinity starting with the lime tree lined approach. The trees are, it’s said, representative of the twelve tribes of Israel. Inside you will find the sanctuary where one glove maker’s son by the name of William Shakespeare bought his right to burial here in 1605 when he paid £440 for a share in the tithes.
Holy Trinity is not just a tourist attraction but a thriving parish church very much at the heart of the community and, therefore, opening hours are subject to change due to the day to day demands of the parishioners (weddings, funerals, etc.).Tourists are discouraged from visiting on Good Friday and Christmas Day. Holy Trinity welcomes visitors between March and October, from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, April to September 8.30am-6pm (Monday-Saturday), November to February (Monday-Saturday) 9am-4pm. Throughout the year Sunday opening times are 12.30pm to 5pm