William Shakespeare, author of “Romeo & Juliet” and giver of spine shivers to pretty much all students who have had the pleasure to study his works, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. Personally, I’ve always been a fan and when the opportunity to visit London has surfaced, I immediately wanted to figure out a way to get to the famous birthplace of one of my favorite playwrights.
You know how you tend to think of a favorite quote in any given situation? Or is it just me? Anyway, as I was putting together the details for my day trip from London to Stratford-upon-Avon, I immediately thought of this:
“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” (Merry Wives).
I can plan my friends’ trips to the smallest details but I have yet to find the patience to do that for my own travels. So, while there is a train station really close to the house where Shakespeare was born, I figured it’s easier to just rent a car. In my years of traveling I’ve discovered that cars give you that added flexibility that you cannot have when you have to stick to a timetable.
The driving distance between London and Stratford-upon-Avon is under 2 hours. Do yourself a favor and make sure your rental car has sat nav system (GPS) and if you are not used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road, you may want to hire a driver, too. Once you get to the city, the best option is to leave your car in one of the many car parks available and tackle the scenic city on foot.
The Shakespeare family home
The Shakespeare family homes include a lot more than just his birthplace (thanks to not doing that much of a research this came as a surprise to me as well). But the Shakespeare Birthplace is the house which everyone comes to visit (of course).
If you do want to visit all five places, consider getting a combined ticket (Adult: £23.90 and Child: £14.00 – prices correct as of May 2015). If you have limited time on your hands, at least consider seeing his grave aside from the birthplace (Adult: £15.90 and Child: £9.50).
About the Shakespeare Birthplace
It is the house where he lived from the day he was born up to five years into his married to Anne Hathaway. For those who like his works, this place will shed light into the man and his early years (and these things aren’t exactly taught in school when English is your second language).
The house, while keeping the features of the era it dates from, has been restored and altered through the years. Still, it’s a shrine to the famous playwright. By the way, did you know that both Charles Dickens and Mark Twain were pilgrims here?
The Treasures exhibition features unique and priceless objects linked to the great author. Among them you can find the only portrait which is believed to have been painted while he was still alive.
Allow as much time as you want exploring the places. The gardens (if you chose to visit them as well) provide the perfect place to stop and enjoy the scenery and the people around you. And if you are lucky you’ll catch the actors presenting excerpts from his work.
For the children, a visit here can be a great way to get to know Shakespeare’s work and life. For the adults, it’s the perfect opportunity to find interesting trivia and understand more about the playwright who has given us reasons to cry or laugh whether during school classes or in the theaters.
“Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shore, so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”