This square has transformed over the past decade from a grassy slope where office workers would picnic on a summer's afternoon to a pedestrian-friendly European plaza accessible all year. Birmingham's Town Hall and Council House are located on the square, but graded steps replace the slope and there's now a large fountain containing a sculpture known fondly by locals as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi. Stone lamps and statues of sphinxes adorn the grounds, as does a statue of Queen Victoria. Victoria Square has now become a popular meeting point and relaxing place to people watch.
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.
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.
A defining feature of Birmingham's antiquated landscape, St. Martin's in the Bullring resides in the heart of of the city. Boasting a towering Neo-Gothic facade and a spire that reaches for the sky, this church stands in stark contrast to Birmingham's contemporary buildings. Having received a major face-lift in 1873, this magnificent, stone church is characterful and richly adorned with archways, painted beams, Victorian tiles and medieval frescoes sheltered by a timber roof. Surrounded on all sides by intricate stained glass windows, the church is a stunning tapestry of theatrical decor as well as architectural finesse, all remnants of the glorious Victorian era.
The jewellery industry developed in Birmingham from the mid-19th Century. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is an award-winning working museum which offers a guided tour around a real jewelry factory, showing you all the different aspects of jewelry in the 19th Century and also highlighting the work of new designers. There is a tea room, in case you need refreshments, plus a shop from which you can purchase souvenirs, books and jewelry. If English is not your mother tongue, then you can will find guided tours on tape in French, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish and German.
Also known as The Saxon Sanctuary, St Peter's Church, with its architectural influences from various periods in time, has been described as an epitome in stone of the history of the Church of England. Its Saxon tower and sanctuary, dating back to the 10th Century or earlier, make this parish church one of the most ancient buildings in Shakespeare Country. Whilst you are here, make sure that you visit the barn-roofed Lady Chapel. This features an exhibition tracing the history of this corner of Warwickshire at around the time of the first millennium, as recounted in the tale of Wagen, the local thegn (clan chief).
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.
King Edward VI Grammar School set in the heart of Stratford's Old Town is a low, black and white timbered building that dates back to the century before Shakespeare's birth. King Edward VI dispossessed the Guild of the Holy Cross, which founded the school. He subsequently granted it to the borough of Stratford and today it continues to challenge the hearts and minds of Stratford's young people. The buildings are open on Saturdays and Sundays in August and by special request.
Although suppressed by an Act of Parliament in 1559, some Roman Catholic congregations continued to worship in private. Almost three hundred years later, following the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 and the gradual lifting of restrictions including the re-establishment of dioceses in 1850, the time was right for a place of public worship to emerge. As a result, St. Gregory's was conceived in 1849 and, after overcoming various difficulties along the way, was born in 1866. Designed by the internationally renowned architect, Edward Welby Pugin, it was enthusiastically welcomed by the people of Stratford as a beautiful ornament to the town.