Located exactly 23 minutes away (assuming you do not run into traffic or stray sheep, of course) from Chipping Campden is the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Yes, I know, Stratford isn’t exactly in Chipping Campden, and doesn’t quite fit under this month’s segment, but it’s still a town in the Cotswolds, so away put your cudgel, I mean your expectations no harm!
Stratford-upon-Avon is a town bustling with shops, historic sites, and plenty of pigeons. Not only was this town equipped with a much more touristy vibe, but it was also considerably more modernized, with department stores such as Marks & Spencer and Debenhams.
Our day in Stratford-upon-Avon started with a visit to the Church of Holy Trinity, where Shakespeare was baptized, perhaps married, and is now buried. Entrance to the church is free, however there is a fee if one would like to visit the grave of Shakespeare, his wife, and some other close relatives. The fee being rather substantial (about four or five pounds), we decided that a look around the imposing church would be sufficient.
After exiting the church, we headed towards Shakespeare’s birthplace. On the way, we passed the thatch-roofed house of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, among many other beautiful homes. Susanna’s house, Hall’s Croft, is open for tourists, I think, but we decided to hustle onward.
The house in which Shakespeare was born, has a rather interesting history. It started off rather small, with John Shakespeare’s shop on the bottom most level. Slowly, additions were built, and at the time, the house would have been considered quite large indeed. Among others, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, John Keats, Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and William Thackeray have visited this house and either engraved their names in the ever-famous window (on display inside the house) or signed their names in a guestbook, or on the wall of the bedroom (which, I discovered to my utmost dismay, is pained over). The house eventually began to fall apart, and in 1847, Charles Dickens helped to purchase the house on behalf of the Shakespeare Birthday Committee (yes, that exists).
Shakespeare’s house having been seen, we set off down the road towards Harvard house, a home significantly less significant than Shakespeare’s birthplace, but interesting nonetheless. What did I learn at the Harvard house? Well:
- A descendant of the family went on to provide funds for Harvard University.
- And, the first level of the home was a butcher shop.
On the way to Shakespeare’s birthplace, I had spied a used and rare bookshop, and, once we had our fill of the Shakespeare residence, we stopped by the store. If you ever visit Stratford, you could pay this shop a visit. However, if you are as enamored with antiquarian tomes as I happen to be, this store will be the source of much grief to you, for the books are exorbitantly priced.
To finish off our day in Stratford-upon-Avon, we drove to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. If you’re thinking of The Princess Diaries, you’ll be in for a surprise when you see the small cottage with a thatched roof and unbelievably exquisite garden. While the cottage itself wasn’t the most thrilling, engrossing experience once could have, the garden is definitely worth meandering through.
Phew! It was tricky putting a good day’s worth of exploring into one post! Stratford-upon-Avon was bursting with celebrated sites, lush gardens, and homes that seem to have sprung off the pages of storybooks, and is most definitely worth another visit!
Thank you for reading!