continuing my tour of Shakespeare's hometown

Stratford-upon-Avon Travel Blog

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Evans by Shakespeare's Birthplace

For breakfast, I made myself some eggs and crumpets (known to Americans as, “English muffins”) and left with the receptionist a load of laundry to wash.  With my dirty clothes queued behind linens, I posed for a photo by Shakespeare’s Birthplace (from the outside, as admission to it and the other “Shakespeare houses” was outrageously priced), which he occupied 1564-1616.


In search of free internet access, I entered the village library, but the one computer was booked for the rest of the day and into the next.  It was not wasted time, however, since it gave me an opportunity to see at Tudor construction from the inside.  On the second floor, the roof system stimulated my fondness for limber and old wooden beam trusses really wowed me.


A short distance down the street, I felt my posture straighten as I spotting an American flag.

Tudor style wooden truss roof in Stratford's village library
  It was mast below the third floor window on the façade of another Tudor building.  I asked a fellow pedestrian about the out of place American banner and he told me the building is the Harvard House, the former home of John Harvard who had founded the world-renown university so the flag flew in honor of the former occupant’s legacy.


I next stopped inside the simple, yet peaceful Guild Chapel (built in 1269).  A mural (painted in the early 16th century) representing the Day of Judgment faintly remains above the focal arch before the alter, small lamps picketed the pews, and stained glass surrounds the room.  It was eerily quiet in the empty place of worship, as though perhaps the door had been left unlocked by mistake.


Lined with history, Church Street led from Nash’s House past the chapel and Almshouses (charitable housing) to Shakespeare’s elementary school, King Edward VI School and more.

Harvard House (with the American flag)
  In the park around Brass Rubbing Centre, bricks set in earth mark a few lonely graves on a slope at the river’s edge.  The row continues up to a brick wall beyond which a proper cemetery lies.  Half of the marking stones lie at the foot of small trees, springing new life from death.


Over the wall I went, through the graveyard of the surrounding lawn to Holy Trinity Church (1210, rebuild completed 1520).  Inside, I visited the graves of William Shakespeare and his family as well as the sarcophagi of George Carew and his wife Joyce Clopton in a separate room.  Surround the centre chapel, were ornately carved misericords reminiscent of those I had seen in Durham.

Guild Chapel (built in 1269)
  Designed to relieve clergy who must stand for long periods of prayer, the slim fold-out shelves are sometimes called “mercy seats,” as “misericord” comes from the Latin roots meaning “act of mercy.”


With tired feet, I wrapped up my tour of the lovely, historic town.  Along the river, I watched swans loitering by their namesake, the Swan Theatre, which sits behind the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  My back to the burning sun, I took a rest on a fountain bench in Bancroft Gardens to observe the half-speed people as they ate and mingled, and meandered about.  Had I been of better means, I might have paid the ₤12 charge for entrance to the five Shakespeare houses, and shopped, and eaten, and taken a longboat cruise on the river.  There was so much to see and do, but I had a schedule to keep.  I waited anxiously on the terrace for the last of my laundry to dry before stuffing it in my pack and hurrying to make the 14:04 train to Oxford.
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Evans by Shakespeares Birthplace
Evans by Shakespeare's Birthplace
Tudor style wooden truss roof in S…
Tudor style wooden truss roof in …
Harvard House (with the American f…
Harvard House (with the American …
Guild Chapel (built in 1269)
Guild Chapel (built in 1269)
Chapel Street (Nashs House, Guild…
Chapel Street (Nash's House, Guil…
Holly Trinity Church (inside are t…
Holly Trinity Church (inside are …
Swan Theatre behind the Royal Shak…
Swan Theatre behind the Royal Sha…
photo by: petit_gooroo