Stratford-upon-Avon. Six must-stops.
These six experiences will have your literary fans, history buffs, and culture enthusiasts enthralled at every turn. Stratford-upon-Avon, located on the River Avon and only two hours from London, is the place to immerse oneself in all things Shakespeare.
Your clients will walk in the writer’s footsteps as they wander through this 16th century, 2-story home where Shakespeare spent his childhood. Complete with period furniture, they’ll get to see his bedroom, the family dining area, the parent’s bedroom, and his father’s glove-making area. Shakespeare’s Birthplace tour gives insight into what life was like for the famous author during his formative years, what his family life might have been like, and what type of clothing was used circa 1574. The tour concludes with a one-man monologue of the group’s choice of a Shakespeare play.
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall
This schoolhouse, which opened just 18 months ago to the public, takes visitors back in time to an era when only the boys attended school, and children from ages 7 to 14 shared a classroom. As we walked into the class, and took our seat on one of the pews at the front of the class, we were welcomed with a mini school lesson. The schoolmaster, dressed in period attire, showed us what a day in school would have been like for the boys. We even learned that back then the older children taught the younger ones, and school took place six days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During this tour, guests are also shown a movie that further depicts what school days were like for Shakespeare and his classmates; and gives guests the opportunity to learn a little Latin and attempt to write with a period fountain pen.
Shakespeare’s New Place
Although the house no longer stands—it was burnt down by one of the owners—Shakespeare’s New Place is a must-stop as it was the writer’s final place of residence in Stratford-upon-Avon (he died there in 1616). Guests learn that it was once the largest home in Stratford-upon-Avon (about 20 rooms), and it’s believed that Shakespeare bought the home for his wife and children as a way to show the townspeople his new status as a playwright. Today owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, there’s a stunning garden where the house once stood that’s open to visitors, and the neighboring house, which belonged to Shakespeare’s granddaughter, is now a museum where guests can check out artifacts from Shakespeare’s time, including Shakespeare’s will.
The Play’s the Thing Exhibit
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) campus is home to the interactive The Play’s the Thing exhibit, where guests get the opportunity to see costumes used by RSC actors; step inside the thought process of a director; play with props; and perform Hamlet on a virtual stage.
The perfect stage for an afternoon bite, the Rooftop Restaurant on the third floor of the RSC campus, offers views of the River Avon and Stratford-upon-Avon. Visitors can also take a trip to the top of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Tower for 360-degree views of
Wrap up the day with a live performance at the RSC Theatre. We enjoyed the period play “The Duchess of Malfi,” which is playing through August 2018 in the intimate Swan Theatre. Or, guests can choose to see one of Shakespeare’s own works: “Macbeth” is showing through September 2018.
Royal Shakespeare Company: rsc.org.uk
Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust: shakespeare.org.uk/visit/shakespeares-new-place
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall: shakespearesschoolroom.org
Collette Tours (gocollette.com) offers a 10-day British Landscapes itinerary
that takes guests to Scotland, Wales and England. It includes a 2-night stay in
Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespearean history comes alive.
Back-Roads Touring (backroadstouring.com) has a 5-day Heart of England itinerary that includes a daytime visit to Shakespeare’s hometown.
Call It A Night: The Arden Hotel, a Small Luxury Hotel of the World
This boutique property with 45 guestrooms is all about location, location, location. It’s across from the RSC campus, and down the street from Shakespeare’s New Place and Schoolroom, and offers views of the River Avon. Guests can opt for a traditional British afternoon tea in the Garden Room or the lounge; dine at the Waterside Brasserie, offering a seasonal menu and a Champagne Bar; or pay homage to the RSC by spending some time in the The Club Bar, a modern take on the old fashioned gentleman’s club adorned with shots of famous performances from the RSC archives, and fitted with an ornate carved and gilded bar. Although an intimate property, room configurations include accommodations for families with interconnecting rooms, rooms with sofa beds and roll-away beds (for children under 12), as well as complimentary cots for babies. theardenhotelstratford.com