Literary Ramblings around Stratford upon Avon: In search of William Shakespeare.
Having a significant anniversary to celebrate, we decided to spend a weekend in Stratford upon Avon in search of William Shakespeare. It is a very special place and the sun shone. As it is the 400th anniversary of his death this year, it seemed the right moment to visit. I haven't visited the Royal Shakespeare Theatre since it was rebuilt so there was much to see.
We watched A Midsummer Night's Dream in the main Theatre and...
Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe in the Swan Theatre...
Reviews of both plays will appear at a later date. Suffice to say that they were a complete contrast but nevertheless left us feeling exhilarated.
We started our search for the Bard at his birthplace- where else? We were able to walk through the rooms of the house where he was born and raised with his siblings and imagine it back in time. Furnished as it might have appeared in 1574, it was both a home and workplace as John Shakespeare, his father, was a Glovemaker. In one of the bedrooms is a fascinating window which it is thought was there when Shakespeare lived in the house. Many signatures have been scratched onto the glass- so many that Tennyson's has apparently been over-written!
In the beautiful garden, were found costumed actors who recited Shakespeare's verse on request (I asked for a bit of Henry V) and a copy of the wall of his plays which is located in the Globe Theatre in London. The highlight of the visit was the exhibition space where we were able to view Shakespeare's Will which has been lent by the National Archive for a short time. There are only six known signatures of Shakespeare in existence and three are on this document. When it returns to London, it will be hidden away again for a period of 20 years before it is allowed to come into the light again.
Another gem we were able to visit was Hall's Croft where Shakespeare's elder daughter, Suzanna, lived with her husband, the physician, John Hall. This was a very splendid building with even more splendid gardens where John's herbs and medicines will have been cultivated. Shakespeare visited the house and I loved the guide telling how he 'might' have sat in front of the fireplace in the parlour, telling stories to the only grandchild he met, Elizabeth, Suzanna's daughter.
We only scraped the surface of Stratford upon Avon. New Place, where Shakespeare's house in later years stood is currently being restored and a huge reason to go back. Everywhere we went seemed to have echoes of his plays, whether it was in references to the furnishings in his Birthplace or plants in the gardens. All roads always lead back to the Theatres, for us, so I will finish this blog down by Clopton Bridge, close by.