In 1950, we ate lunch at The Shakespeare Gallery Restaurant at No.20 Bridge Street This was originally a town house that was rebuilt after the 1641 fire. It is now opposite a Barclay's Bank
This is listed in a book by H E Forrest called The Old Houses of Stratford-upon-Avon: London:
1925-: 52-4; Bearman R: Stratford-upon-Avon: A History of its
Streets and Buildings: Nelson: 1988-: 17
The description is:
Timber-frame with brick rear wing; tile roof. Largely C20 timber-framed facade. 3 storeys; 2-window range; 1st and 2nd floors jettied; 2 gables. Late C20 ground floor recessed behind 2 posts to bressumer (recorded as having 2 caryatids, 1972). 1st floor has paired 18-pane sashes; 2nd floor has late C19 four-light transomed projecting windows. Close-studded framing; moulded barge-boards with finials. Some timber-framing visible to left return, and ogee-headed stair windows to 1st and 2nd floors with small-paned glazing.
Across the footbridge by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the river, there are signs and a short walk to the Butterfly Farm. A tropical park, with information centers on lots of insect type things, it's something a bit different to do in Stratford to get away from the hordes of Shakespeare-ites :)
In my local village its watermill has been expertly restored and is worthwhile visit.
The mill is mentioned the Doomsday Book of 1086 as one of three situated near Wellesbourne. It has had a colourful history and was still working in the early 1900’s
The mill was completely restored in 1990 and received a Conservation award from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
The mill is now fully functional and sells its own flour. There are daily demonstrations of the mill working.
Wellesbourne mill also features the Welsh Coracle which is an ancient small boat. It is possible to have a row in one on the millpond.
Coracles (from the Welsh "cwrwgl") can be dated back thousands of years. The Coracle was originally covered with animal skins and in some countries they are still made this way,
Wellesbourne has a number of Coracles, one of which has been built in the traditional way with animal skins.
In Bancroft Gardens is Stratford's war memorial.
Two local children designed the form of the monument, which was then fabricated by Horton Quarries Ltd
The monument was to 50 years of peace since the Second World War and was dedicated in 1995
Instead of following the street from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to the Holy Trinity church go to the riverside of the Theatre and pass the Theatre cafe and pickup a pathway by the river.
Follow this and it will take you through a small park until you eventually come to the Holy Trinity Church.
A pleasant scenic walk away from the traffic
As you walk along the street called Waterside you will see this plaque which records the heights of the worst floods to hit Stratford.
The last time was in 1998.
You will be amazed at the depth and when you look around you can visualise the effect that this would have had on the town.
Many millions of pounds of damage were caused to the town.
This is a worthwhile visit although it is in a village a number of miles outside Stratford.
It consists of an Arboretum, A falconry Centre and Garden Centre.
The Arboretum was created in 1886
The Arboretum is situated next to the private Batsford Hall. (See photograph)
With Batsford village nearby.
There is an entry price of £5 (Adult) to the Arboretum and a price of £5 (Adult) to the Falconry which considering the walks is well worth the money.
Every season has something to offer. I particularly like the winter walk (see separate travelogue)
Because it is fairly remote by UK standards even in the summer it can be a quiet haven.
I used to love it here when I was a kid! There's nothing flashy about this place, simple innocent fun is more like it.
It's between the RST/Swan and Holy Trinity Church in the gardens alongside the river. You pick up something you want a rubbing of, the staff cover it in black paper and give you some wax crayons. Then you rum and get a picture.
Simple as that!
Find the park and tourist information center along the Avon then look up the river. You'll see a church spire about a mile down. You can follow the road along the river and arrive at Trinity Church, a small parish church overlooking the river, surrounded by shady trees. This is the church William Shakespeare was baptized and buried in. His marble memorial tomb is still there in a corner. The church charges no entrance fee but suggests a pound donation.
John Harvard, a London Puritan, emigrated to the New World but died in 1638. He bequeathed his extensive law library and half of his estate towards building a college which later became Harvard College (University). Harvard House in Stratford belonged to John Harvard's mother and is a wonderful example of an elaborately half timbered town house.
It now houses the museum of British Pewter and contains artifacts back as early as Roman times.
You'll almost certainly go to Holy Trinity Church to see Shakespeare's grave.
The existing church dates from 1210.
As you walk down the aisle, look at the angels carved a little way up each pillar (probably from the 15th century, maybe earlier). Mostly Medieval carvings, each one a little bit different, each one expressing the creativity and imagination of the master mason who created it.
Just ordinary working men (masons were always men), probably illiterate, but gifted with great skill.
It's worth taking a moment to appreciate their work.
The nearer to the altar you were buried, the nearer to God you were.
And the more expensive your grave.
Ordinary folk were never buried within churches: for them, the open churchyard was the only option (mostly without any marker, except perhaps a wooden cross).
For the wealthy, a grave within the church was essential.
Many of the floor slabs in Holy Trnity have been removed, their brsses taken to the brass rubbing centre nearby (or lost over the centuries).
But you can still see some of the slate grave slabs. These date from the 1700s, when slate became a fashionable stone for grave-marking. Road surfaces and transportation had developed enough for it to be easily carried from Wales, so it was very much a novelty.
The slabs in the photo date from the mid-1700s, but there are some from earlier.
You'll have to pay to enter the chancel, where Shakespeare is buried.
But it's worth it just to see the wonderful Medieval misericordes in the chancel choir.
Misericordes are little ledges at the bottom of seats, provided for weary and/or old monks to rest their buttocks during long masses and services.
The Holy Trinity ones are the original Medieval misericordes (in many English churches they have disappeared because of rot, woodworm, 'renovations' etc). All 26 are entirely fascinating, and beautifully carved.
Look for the camel, and the woman beating her husband over the head with a saucepan (whilst hanging onto his beard), and the bat-like creatures, and the horned head.....many pagan symbols there, which is not at all unusual in an English Medieval church.
It's worth visiting this church just for the misericordes: they were the highlight of my afternoon in Stratford. There is a travelogue about them here:
Easy to miss this: it's on the door to the main entrance.
There is a small door-with-a-door, and on it is the knocker in the photo. It dates from the 13th century (the door itself is from the 15th).
It's proper name is a 'sanctuary ring'. Anyone running or hiding from the law (or the 'hue and cry') could 'claim sanctuary' (protection) from the church if he/she reached this knocker. This meant he/she could stay safely within the church for up to 37 days.
I wonder how often it was used. It would certainly have some sad tales to tell, if it could speak.