Stratford-upon-Avon is a picturesque town beautifully situated on the river with a wealth of black and white timber framed buildings. It is, of course, most famous for being the birthplace of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare.Enjoy a stroll around the town centre with its good selection of shops, restaurants and tearooms. A great way to explore the town and the neighbouring villages of Shottery and Wilmcote (home to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s) is with City Sightseeing’s hop-on, hop off buses. There are other ways of seeing Stratford too. Why not relax on a river cruise with Bancroft Cruisers or Avon Boating.
Families will love the Butterfly Farm which houses hundreds of exotic species. Anyone interested in Tudor history won’t want to miss the The Falstaffs Experience, a living museum where history is brought to life with theatrical and atmospheric settings. No visit to Stratford-upon-Avon would be complete without seeing a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company, who were due to reopen their main theatre in November 2010 after an extensive rebuild and renovation.
Brief History of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) was born at Stratford-upon-Avon in a house in Henley Street. This is preserved intact. His mother, Mary Arden, was one of the daughters of Robert Arden, a yeoman farmer of Wilmcote: his father, John Shakespeare, was a glover and wool dealer of good standing who held the office of Bailiff of the Borough in 1568. From the age of seven to about 14, he attended Stratford Grammar School receiving an excellent well rounded education. At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who was seven years his senior and three months pregnant. She was of ‘yeoman’ stock – her family owned a farm one mile west of Stratford in Shottery. He endured her until he could stand it no longer and fled to London to become an actor. He then became actor-manager and part-owner in the Black friars and afterwards the Globe Theatres. He was a first-rate actor, but it is as a writer of plays that he has achieved lasting world-wide fame. His plays are thought to be the finest ever written in any language. His 37 plays vary in type; historical romances, light, fantastic comedies, some are tragedies, all including the comical and the farcical. He was a shrewd business man, amassing quite a fortune in his time. He returned to Stratford for his latter years where he died at the age of 52 and now lies at rest in his special grave at Holy Trinity Church.
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