I’ve been visiting Stratford Upon Avon and the surrounding area regularly for quite a few years now and although the main purpose of our visits are most often Shakespeare-related, we realised this week that we have never really done anything ‘touristy’ in town.
It’s ironic to think that with such a love of Shakespeare and the theatre, we hadn’t actually explored Shakespeare’s houses for example; well I had, but it was in 1983 I think, so it probably doesn’t count. In fact, over the past year, I’ve been up to Stratford even more frequently for my research and I have spent many hours in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Library and Archive and The Shakespeare Institute, but I still haven’t ventured any further…
Two of the very talented actors in the garden of Shakespeare’s Birthplace performing a scene from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in a less than summery, chilly wind.
So, this week as we drove up from Hertfordshire for a few days we decided it was about time we did. We did the Stratford Town Walk, visited the Church where Shakespeare was christened and buried, took in some non-RSC theatre, visited the Birthplace and, well obviously we went to the RST to see the unmissable ‘Death of a Salesman’, but that was planned a while ago.
The Stratford Town Walk was fascinating and extremely enlightening. John, our guide was very knowledgeable and had some great little anecdotes. I was surprised to discover that many councils around the UK, and indeed many countries, have donated lampposts to the town. In all my wanderings, I’d never noticed the lamppost outside The Swan Theatre that was donated by Israel and features an owl, Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof (an interesting trio if ever there was one!). I hadn’t realised that the town still occasionally flooded, or that a frog’s spittle could cure a sore throat, and I had no idea that Shakespeare’s grave was actually cursed.
The lamppost donated by Israel
A visit to the Birthplace, was equally educational – seeing Homer Simpson doing Macbeth was disturbing, viewing the First Folio was interesting and treading the floors of Shakespeare’s first home was actually more exciting than I had expected. Even better was the discovery of new inspiration for my designs so watch this space…
The First Folio in Shakespeare’s Birthplace
I could go on, but I’ll come back to this in a later post. Until then, I’ll just say thank you to John from Stratford Town Walks for his handy tip on how to remember the titles of all of Shakespeare’s plays and wish you a very Happy Easter!