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.
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.
Situated across Church Hill Road, the St Alphege Parish Church is a historic church that dates back to the 12th Century. Over a period of time, it was refurbished several times; the bells and the church's shire were renovated too. It is a beautifully restored religious space and its ancient organ pipe organ, stained glass windows that belong to different time periods and the overall architecture is worth exploring. Apart from that, this church is home to community functions, choir concerts, youth groups, sermons, lectures and similar events.
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.
The jewelry industry developed in the city from the mid-19th Century. At its peak in the early part of the 20th Century, it employed nearly 20,000 workers. Today, the Jewellery Quarter is a bustling area that produces over a third of the UK's jewelry, and you can find tons of bargains in its many small shops. It's also home to the award-winning Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and some good restaurants.
One of United Kingdom's finest vestiges of medieval-age military architecture, the legendary Warwick Castle sits right in the heart of the Warwick Castle Knight's Village. The castle, William I's iconic stronghold that he built in 1068, encapsulates nearly 1000 years of history. Originally built as a motte-and-bailey castle, it was equipped with a stone keep in the 12th Century, during Henry I's rule. Its displays today include a host of medieval weaponry, vivid waxworks, and the Herculean 18-meter (59-foot) Warwick trebuchet, known as one of the largest siege engines of its kind in the world.
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.
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.
Experience the Falstaff Experience for an informative and theatrical living history lesson. You will be met and entertained by staff in period costume and you can have your photograph taken alongside characters in the mock-up cottages and shops. Items of interest here include the punishment stocks, the music room and a Gothic collection of all things ghastly and glorious!