Today is a public holiday, which would seem like a nice day to stay right here, but I have lots of writing to get done, so I’m thinking a place with some literary inspiration would be a nice getaway. Where better than the town of William Shakespeare?
What did I love about Stratford-upon-Avon?
For starters, it’s a very pretty place.
It was April when we visited, so the trees were green, the river clear, and the flowers blooming.
We stayed in the most charming English Bed and Breakfast, although I’m not sure I could have coped with the colour scheme for more than a couple of days!
Coming from a country where a 100 year old building is OLD, it is pretty cool to see places that have been there for hundreds of years and wonder at all those who have passed through in that time and what might have occurred there.
The Guild Chapel has been hosting worship gatherings for 850 years.
The building next to the Guild Hall was added more recently … in 1490.
We had a great English pub lunch at The Garrick Inn, thought to be the oldest house in Stratford-upon-Avon, with parts of it dating back to the fourteenth century.
What did I learn from Stratford-upon-Avon?
Really, as a visitor, Stratford-upon-Avon is all about Shakespeare, and I learned much about him. Touring town is basically a walk through the places of his life.
Where he was born, the son of a glover who later became an alderman and High Bailiff but then fell on hard times and narrowly avoided debtor’s prison.
The church where he was both baptised and buried, and likely attended services whenever he was in town.
His wife’s cottage, the older woman he married at 18, seemingly spent twenty years apart from while he wrote and performed, returned to live with and left his “second-best bed” to in his will.
His daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall’s house.
The site of the house where he died.
His grave and funerary monument inside the church.
And of course no Shakespearian trip would be complete without catching a performance of one his famous plays … we saw Henry IV, although it was back in London at Shakespeare’s Globe.
From all accounts, our William was a complicated man who had in many ways a messy life. But his legacy is a reminder of the incredible power of words … words that live on and are shared and inspire. Words that can even change lives. As someone who works with words in my teaching and preaching jobs, who is currently engaged in finding words to express my research and learning, and who enjoys playing with words in this adventure of blogging, that is a powerful reminder.
P.S. And finally, speaking of words, I’m not sure there is anywhere else but an Old English village where you would find such politely expressed parking advice.