20 February 2014

Day Trips from London: London to Stratford-upon-Avon

Day Trip: London to Stratford-upon-Avon

A pilgrimage to Stratford-upon-Avon is a must for any lover of Shakespeare. This was his childhood home and birthplace. The cottage of his beloved Anne Hathaway is here along with the Holy Trinity Church where he was baptised, married and buried.

Ive been to Stratford-upon-Avon twice and enjoyed it both times. Once as part of a whirlwind day tour where I was trying to fit as much into my holiday as possible and once as a weekend away. Its a lovely, chilled escape from London and easily done as a day trip.

In less than 10 minutes from the station you will find yourself on Henley street and in front of Shakespeare's Birthplace. His home has been kept as it would have been when he was a child there (it was here i learnt where the expression "sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" came from). In his fathers shop you can find out how they made gloves including some facts that might make you go "ew" if you happen to be the kind of person that says such things. Anyway, the thing that just adore is the actors, they do regular performances of snippets from Shakespeare's plays within the grounds. I just love that.

Not far from Henley street is the river Avon. Its beautiful when the sun is out and on Sundays there is a food and crafts market that runs along Waterside. Overlooking the river is the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre. I do think there is something to seeing a Shakespearean play in the place Shakespeare was born. The RSC does brilliant productions and interpretations and its worth seeing a play if you have time.

Further down past the RSC, if you take a bit of a stroll along Waterside/Southern lane, you'll find yourself near the Holy Trinity Church - Shakespeare's final resting place.

Also in that direction (just past the RSC on Waterside) is an odd lamppost donated by Israel. Some other lampposts along this street have been donated too but this one is the most striking.

If you are looking for the quintessential chocolate-box cottage with pretty gardens and a thatched roof, then you should visit Anne Hathaway's cottage which is also kept in the style of Shakespeare's period. Anne's family was more well off, and their house is more "grand" so it is a different experience.

Still, the best part is the beautiful grounds. Be warned, it is a good 20 minutes walk or more from the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon but it is a nice walk. Also, just across the road is a nice place to indulge in tea and scones or cake alongside a bubbling brook.

If you don't want to do all that, walking around the main streets in town will show off a large array of historic houses, each charming, well preserved and interesting in its own way - just be sure to look past the high street shop fronts. You never know what you'll find.

Another option is to explore some of the other homes managed by the Shakespeare Trust, such as Halls Croft (home of Shakespeare's daughter Susanna and her husband), the home of John Nash (husband of Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth) and New Place (foundations of the home Shakespeare bought when he became a wealthy playwright). You'll be able to enter for free if you have bought a combined ticket.

Hot Tip: When you arrive at the train station check the brochures in the ticket office, i found one that gave me a 2 for 1 discount which was brilliant. My friend and I bought a combined ticket each (they are valid for a year for free repeat visits) at a bargain price!

  • Shakespeare's Birthplace
  • Anne Hathaway's Cottage
  • RSC
  • Holy Trinity Church
  • River Avon
  • Markets
Travel Tips for London to Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Trip duration by train is approximately 2 hours (quickest) to 2 and a half hours (longest)
  • Make sure you choose Stratford-upon-Avon (SAV) not Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway (STY)
  • Trains depart from London Marylebone, Euston and Paddington rail stations - it is best to try to depart from Marylebone as trains departing from there are less likely to require you to change at another station to get to Stratford-upon-Avon
  • If you book early (eg a month in advance) you can get tickets for as low as £6
  • You can drive to Stratford-upon-Avon - it takes approximately 2 hours (give or take, subject to traffic conditions)
All tips for visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, questions and comments are welcome! Hope you enjoyed this weeks issue!

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