The Theatre Chipping Norton is one of the most prominent cultural centers in the city, which has something to suit everyone's tastes. Whether it's music that moves you or comedy, drama or just relaxed film screenings, this is where it's all at.
Every year the fields 10 minutes from the centre of Warwick turn into a camping site hosting the Warwick Folk Festival. Warwick camping ground offers concert venues, a quiet camping area, a indoor swimming pool and many other facilities. On the site there is also a general store available, wide selection of food and drink and a free festival bus to town.
Take to the water! For the energetic, Avon Boating offers a choice of self-powered vessels. Rowing boats, punts and Canadian canoes are all available for hire. Or, for those who prefer a more relaxed mode, why not step aboard an Edwardian passenger boat for a tranquil half-hour cruise on the Avon? Private charter and extended cruises, buffets, high teas, river picnics and corporate events can all be arranged through Avon Boating. Note that there is also an 1898 steam launch for hire! Check website for different packages available.
Proudly proclaiming the fact that it is "Europe's largest", the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm affords a peaceful retreat away from all things Shakespearean. Hundreds of butterflies can be viewed at close quarters, many of the species sporting spectacular colors. For those interested in less attractive, more frightening creatures, other insect displays are available, including stick insects, leaf-eating ants and the world's largest spider.
A trip to Stratford is not complete without a visit to the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The theater was built in 1926 following fire damage to the 1879 original structure. Fortunately it was not completely destroyed during the fire; parts of the original building, a cross between a German castle and French chateau, are still clearly visible. A second auditorium, the Swan Theater has also been incorporated into the older part.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust owns and operates the five Shakespeare Houses in and around Stratford. Three of these, Shakespeare's Birthplace, Hall's Croft and Nash's House & New Place, are in Stratford itself. The other two, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's House, are set in the outlying villages of Shottery and Wilmcote respectively. Each of these beautifully preserved Shakespeare Houses gives you the chance to fully imagine the world inhabited by the most famous playwright and poet in history.
From the banks of the Avon river rises Stratford-upon-Avon, a picturesque historic town dating back nearly a millennium. Best known as the birth and final resting place of famed playwright William Shakespeare, the town draws thousands each year, especially during the theater season when the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company puts on their annual performances. Among the city's top attractions, the one-of-a-kind MAD Museum; Mary Arden's Farm, a working Tudor-era farm where the Bard's mother grew up; original Shakespeare's Birthplace; and the tranquil bylanes along the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal stand out. With its spectacular scenery, rich history, and ties to one of the world's most acclaimed literary figures, Stratford-upon-Avon offers a wealth of experiences to uncover.
In striking contrast to the typical 15th-Century style of this area sits Stratford Town Hall. It owes its classic stone design to the fact that it was completely re-built in the 1800s. The original building, which housed the Market Hall, dated back to 1634. However, it suffered extensive damage from a gunpowder explosion during the Civil War when parliamentarian forces were in occupation. Look out for the statue of Shakespeare, presented to the town by David Garrick, set in a niche on one of the exterior walls. Beneath this is a plaque commemorating the silver jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.
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.
Early in the 15th Century, The Guild of the Holy Cross established this row of almshouses for the well being of elderly local people. In 1553, when The Guild was suppressed, the almshouses were granted by charter to the borough of Stratford, together with the adjoining school (King Edward VI Grammar School) and the Guild Chapel. Although a program of renovation and modernization of the almshouses was completed in 1984, the outward appearance, with its timber framing and overhanging upper story, is more or less unchanged.
Montpellier Gallery is modern gallery which houses the work of contemporary artists most of whom are British. You are very welcome to browse in the gallery's three rooms each displaying a range of individual pieces. For example, there are prints by artists such as Roy Fairchild, exquisite glass confections by glass maker Peter Layton and more paintings, prints, ceramics and jewelery than you can take in. If nothing catches your eye, you can always commission a one-off piece from many of the artists on show here. Please call for open hours.
Nash's House, once owned by Thomas Nash, the first husband of Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth, contains fine examples of 17th-century tapestries and oak furniture. The garden of this beautiful half-timbered house, with its Elizabethan-style knot garden, was planted on the site previously occupied by New Place. Shakespeare bought New Place in 1597 for £60 as a retirement retreat, and it was here that he spent his last years. Reputed to be one of the finest houses in Stratford, New Place was unfortunately demolished on the instructions of an eccentric owner in the 18th century; all that remain are two wells and parts of the foundations.