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It is well worth spending time studying the frontage of Harvard House, for it is Stratford's most ornate structure and a splendid example of an Elizabethan town house. Look in particular for the initials of the owners who had it re-built following the severe damage sustained in the Great Fire of 1594. It was their grandson John who, having emigrated to the United States, founded the university which bears his name. In 1909, the house was purchased by a Chicago millionaire who paid for it to be restored before presenting it to Harvard University. Today the house is managed on behalf of Harvard by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Inside the house, in addition to fine pieces of 17th century furniture, is part of the Neish pewter collection. This collection of great national importance boasts items spanning over two thousand years.
For those who like their leisure activities passive, this is an ideal spot to relax. Feeding the ducks at the water's edge is about as energetic as it gets! However, there are lots of things to see including the colorful narrow-boats moored in the canal-basin and the impromptu street-entertainers. And that is not all. On one side of the gardens is the splendid Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and on another is the truly inspirational Gower Memorial. The Gardens are also just a short walk from the town center, making them particularly popular with visitors recovering from whistle-stop tours of Stratford's heritage sites.
In the heart of the city, is the house where Shakespeare was born in 1564. The entrance to the house is via the visitors' center. Here you will find the highly acclaimed Shakespeare Exhibition. This comprehensive display superbly illustrates the Bard's life and career in the city. Having walked through the exhibition, you emerge into a garden laid out with flowers, trees and shrubs that were familiar to Shakespeare and that were mentioned in his work. The house itself has been faithfully reconstructed and now offers a fascinating insight into Shakespeare's life as a child. Rooms have been furnished as accurately as possible with replicas of 16th Century everyday objects, furniture and textiles having been commissioned. Take yourself back in time and reflect upon the tales that began here.
As 200-year-old feats of engineering and unique combinations of industrial heritage and wildlife havens, canals provide us with some fascinating walks. The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal is no exception. From its basin in the Bancroft Gardens, the canal extends for 26 miles before it meets the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. The canal boasts many features of architectural interest, including over 40 listed structures and buildings ranging from aqueducts and locks—of which there are 56 in all—to the British Waterways' office and workshop at Lapworth. And, yes, even here Shakespeare is remembered. A bust of the Bard can be seen on the portal of the Brandwood Tunnel—even though this tunnel is actually much closer to Birmingham than to Stratford-upon-Avon!
This landmark church is located in a picturesque setting on the edge of town, beside the river and approached through an avenue of lime trees. The burial site of famous playwright Shakespeare, Holy Trinity Church is considered to be one of the finest parish churches in the Midlands, and one of the most beautiful in England. A bust of Shakespeare on the north wall brings about and the much debated question: is it lifelike or not? Admission to the church is free, however they ask for a small donation.
Originally the home of Shakespeare's parents-in-law, Anne Hathaway's Cottage is a charming, half-timbered, thatched-roof farmhouse. Inhabited by descendants of the Hathaway family until the 19th Century, the cottage still contains items of furniture that used to belong to them. Outside is a fantastic traditional English cottage garden complete with an orchard. Take a stroll through this idyllic setting, perhaps stopping to buy plants and herbs grown by the property's gardeners en route. The Tea Garden provides light refreshments and is open from March to October. Note too that Guide Friday Tours stop at the cottage.
Step into the farm of history's most beloved playwright, William Shakespeare's mother and get ready to be transported back to the 16th Century. Mary Arden's Farm or Mary Arden's House is a popular tourist attraction is near Stratford-upon-Avon. This Tudor farm is now managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. It has many rare breeds as well. It was also where young Will used to come and visit his grandparents. Lend your hand in basket-weaving, skep-making, bread-making, animal tending and threshing. During summer you can partake in Tudor games as well. Definitely an eye-opener in the Tudor lifestyle, you will enjoy the time spent here.
Baddesley Clinton is a lovely manor house dating back to the 13th Century. This beautiful house is known to be the home of the Ferrer family for over 500 years. The garden of the manor house and the lake in the vicinity simply add to the beauty of the place. The Baddesley Clinton house is open to visitors throughout the year and is disabled friendly too. The beautiful gardens are also a treat to explore. The place is managed by the National Trust.