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.
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.
This is the ideal park for the entire family, offering a variety of facilities including boating lakes, playgrounds, tennis courts, tropical greenhouses and nature conservation areas. It is also the home of the Midland Arts Centre. A walking/bicycling route winds through the grounds that has recently been extended. The park also plays host to a variety of concerts, performances and the annual Fireworks Fantasia.
Housing one of the world's finest collections of Pre-Raphaelite art, with works by Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Holman Hunt, Birmingham's principal museum and gallery is located in a stunning Victorian building. The museum displays works by British and European artists, along with collections of ceramics, sculpture, silver and stained glass. You can also find archaeological, ethnographic and local history exhibits, including Egyptian mummies.
As the only surviving example of the once prevalent Back to Backs of Birmingham, these historic buildings are a rare treasure. During the 19th Century, a number of buildings were built back to back around a common courtyard to meet the demands of the rapidly growing population of the city as a result of industrialization. These houses were inhabited by the working class who managed to survive in these cramped quarters. Each of the four Back to Backs around the courtyard has been restored and refurnished as a representation of four different time periods, giving visitors an extremely rare opportunity to take a peek into the lives of the ordinary working men and women of the 1840s, 1870s, 1930s and 1970s. Only a few slots are available each day and prior reservations are a must if you wish to visit these homes.
Birmingham's main library was opened in 2013 and is one of the most recognizable and visited buildings in England's second city. The Birmingham's library is the largest public library in the UK and is as remarkable as looking on the inside as it is on the outside. As soon as you walk in you feel like you're in some sort of literary spaceship. And the collections are just as out of this world, including the Boulton and Watt Archives, the Parker collection of children's books and several notable photography collections and archives. In addition, the library houses the Shakespeare Memorial Room, designed in 1882 and moved from the old central library to this one.
This award-winning museum in a Tudor period mansion has interactive exhibits, Shakespeare tours, night-time ghost tours, and organized school visits that bring 16th-century Elizabethan England to life. Visitors can take a seat at a period dining table, rest on a monarch’s bed and throne, and listen for spirits by candlelight.
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.
This modern building situated between Shakespeare's Birthplace and the visitors' center, consists of a library and a records office. The library, devoted to Shakespeare, brings together two important collections that embrace all aspects of his work. This includes early editions and original copies. The library, which used to be part of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, also houses the archive of the Royal Shakespeare Company, complete with records of all productions, copies of programs and newspaper articles and a fascinating collection of photographs. Sound and video recordings of this great company are also available for viewing. The records office contains Shakespearean material of national importance together with a fine local history library including local newspaper files from 1806.
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.
City Sightseeing is a company that is dedicated to help tourists explore cities. This touring company runs buses along specified routes covering different tourist locations. The bus has a guide who gives the tourists information on the place of visit and assists them in the English language. The company also has pre-recorded commentaries in languages like German, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Russian. Check website for details.