One Day in : Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire

Penny W-T By Penny W-T, 9th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>England>Oxfordshire, The Cotswolds & Around

One in a series of ‘Day Trips’ that visitors to the UK might like to consider during their tour here.

Plan out your Day

If you have only one day to spend in this lovely English market town, you have to use your time wisely, for there is so much to see. The town still retains much of its earlier historic layout, dating from Tudor times and even earlier, with a wide elegant main street leading to the bridge crossing the river Avon. The earlier mediaeval streets and lanes criss cross the rest of the town, many of the street names, such as Sheep Street, reflecting its earlier marketing history.
Many of the historical buildings show the Tudor influences that have shaped the town in which William Shakespeare spent much of his life. The town is rich in Shakespearean buildings - his birthplace; the remains of the house in which one of his daughter’s lived with her husband; his wife Anne Hathaway’s family cottage, and also the original home of his mother Mary Arden before her marriage to his father. Then there is the church where he is buried, and the beautiful riverside theatre dedicated to the performance of his plays. There is a lot to see here, so plan your day.

Planning your Tour

Begin by taking the town bus tour. These are operated by City Sightseeing Tours and a ticket costs approximately £12 but it is valid for constant use all day, and you can get on and off buses at any time as you explore the town. Do the whole town tour on the bus first; it is a circular tour of all the prominent visitor venues and takes approximately one hour. The tour guide explains the history of the town and all the main features as the tour progresses. Make notes of the venues on the route and decide where you want to explore next. When the bus returns to the town, stay on board and continue again to the first place you wish to explore. As the buses run on a regular basis, approximately every 20-30 minutes in the main season, you can spend as much time as you wish at the location and then re-board another bus and move on to your next chosen place.

Choosing venues to visit

It is recommended that you make the first stops at the cottages outside of the town, and then work your way back into town. By making an early start you could have Mary Arden’s house and Anne Hathaway’s cottage well explored by lunch time. The other venues are within walking distance of each other within the town centre, although use the bus to get out to Holy Trinity Church and save some time. Here you can see Shakespeare’s tomb, and the church itself is well worth exploring, being a peaceful oasis in what can be a very busy sightseeing experience. The Birthplace building is just off the town centre on a pleasant quiet street, and is a realistic indicator to the standard of living and the social status of the family during the 16th and early 17th century. Have no doubts, William Shakespeare was a man of some financial standing within his community, and a man of influence, in spite of his somewhat “tearaway youth” image.

Eateries

There are many eating places around the town, from the universal McDonalds to cafes, tea rooms, restaurants, hotel dining rooms and traditional British pubs. Two to consider should be the White Swan, just across from the theatre (also known affectionately as the Dirty Duck), and the bar and bistro at Cox’s Yard visitor attraction, on the main bridge opposite the theatre lawns. Bar lunches at both places are reasonable but both are also often very busy.
But to get a real perspective on this town, rather than just its most famous son, spend an hour around the visitor display area at Cox’s Yard. The attraction here outlines the unique history of the town over the 400 years from its role as a market centre during Shakespeare’s time, to the modern day thriving visitor centre, where throughout the year you can hear a mixture of languages as people from world wide come to see where Shakespeare was born.
Cox’s Yard also illustrates the range of trades that were carried out in the town during his lifetime and its influence on the surrounding villages, with a fascinating insight into the earlier lifestyles. Equally, if you have an opportunity to see a matinee or evening performance at the theatre this will greatly add to the atmosphere of your visit and will be an outstanding memory to take away with you.

Rest and Relaxation

A leisurely boating experience on the river Avon can be very relaxing, with an opportunity to see the swans and other bird life for which this part of the river is well known. Lawned areas in front of the theatre stretch to the river and to the marina area on the canal junction, with its flotilla of brightly painted canal boats.
If you are an independent traveller and plan to stay overnight, it would be sensible to consider one of the many bed and breakfast houses on the outskirts of the town as these are far more reasonable than the hotels in the centre of the town. The B&B’s as they are known, are well run, clean, comfortable family homes, offering overnight hospitality to visitors to their town. This also gives an opportunity to meet local people and see more of the broader picture of life in this cosmopolitan market town in the centre of England. You will be most welcome.

Tags

Shakespeare, Sightseeing, Tourism, Travel

Meet the author

author avatar Penny W-T
Published articles on education themes, travel, history and writing techniques. Written a book on WW1 - Gallipoli, and travel books. Run a marketing network for small businesses.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
10th May 2013 (#)

I agree that the bus tours are a great way to get around town. Anne Hathaway's cottage is such a beautiful place, pure English chocolate box charm!

A great insight and very enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
10th May 2013 (#)

Lovely!

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