Stratford-upon-Avon Things to Do

  • Shakespeare's Birthplace, Startford-upon-Avon, UK
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Best Rated Things to Do in Stratford-upon-Avon

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    Holy Trinity Church

    by evaanna Updated Oct 23, 2006

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    Shakespeare's Memorial and grave
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    'His part is played,
    and though it were too short,
    He did it well'.
    The Two Noble Kinsmen

    No visitors to Stratford fail to visit this place. It was here that Shakespeare was buried in 1616 and had been baptised in 1564. Beside his tomb there are the graves of his wife Anne and other members of his family. On the wall nearby is the bust of William Shakespeare erected within seven years of his death and believed to have been commissioned by his daughter Susanna and her husband Dr Hall. The gravestone bears the famous words:

    'Good friend for Jesus sake forebeare
    to digg the dust encloased heare,
    Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
    And curst be he yt moves my bones'

    But even if Shakespeare had not been buried here, the church would be worth visiting for all the treasures it boasts. Parts of the church date back to the 13th century. It has beautiful and ancient stained-glass windows, a precious high altar which was originally in the chapel of St Thomas a Becket, the 15th century font in which Shakespeare was baptised and even the chained Bible of 1611 from which he would hear the Lessons read during the last six years of his life. On the inner door of the porch is a 13th century knocker. Any fugitive reaching it could claim protection for thirty seven days.
    The church is beautifully situated too with an alley of trees leading up to it and the River Avon on one side. In fact the best pictures of it can be taken from the other bank of the river. When we visited the place, though, the spire and a large part of the church were covered in scaffolding so I didn't take a picture of the exterior.

    Admission to the church is free but a donation of 1 GBP is expected if you enter the chancel where Shakespeare is buried.

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    Shakespeare's Birthplace

    by evaanna Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Shakespeare's Birthplace
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    It was here in this half-timbered house in Henley Street that William Shakespeare was most probably born in 1564 and spent his childhood, and perhaps even lived with his wife at the start of their married life. The house had been bought by William Shakespeare's father John in 1556 and parts of it remained in the family till 1806 owned by descendants of the playwright's sister Joan. In 1847 it was acquired by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
    The house is accessed through the Visitors' Centre where you can view an exhibition about Shakespeare's life. To enter the actual Birthplace, you cross the beautiful gardens, where you can find many trees, flowers and herbs mentioned in Shakespeare's works. On entering the house you find yourself surrounded by objects dating back to Shakespeare's times, some are replicas, but all illustrate life in Elizabethan England. The Bard's father was a tradesman and Alderman of Stratford and his glovemaker's workshop is one of the most interesting exhibits on display.
    Efforts have been made to keep the house as it looked in Shakespeare's time - much of the original stone, oak beams and fireplaces are still in place. One thing though is different. We may now admire the beautiful half-timbered walls of the house, but in Shakespeare's time they were plastered over and it was only in Victorian times that the plaster was removed exposing the beams.

    Opening times:
    June - August: Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm, Sunday 9.30 am.- 5 pm.
    April - May: daily 10 am. - 5 pm.
    Nov. - March daily 10 am. - 4 pm.
    Admission:
    Adult - 7 GBP, child - 2.75 GBP, concessions - 6 GBP

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    Hall's Croft

    by evaanna Updated Oct 22, 2006

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    Hall's Croft and Drucker's Cafe
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    This pretty house is named after Doctor John Hall, a highly-respected local physician and husband of Shakespeare's daughter Susanna. Built in 1613, and its oldest part even in the early 16th century, it shows the high status and wealth of the doctor's family, reflected, for instance, in the abundant use of timber in its construction. Poorer families of the time could only afford 'wattle and daub', that is woven wooden sticks cemented with horsehair and cow manure.
    Inside the house we can now see a collection of 16th and 17th century paintings and furniture as well as an exhibition depicting dr Hall and his medical practices. There is a beautiful garden at the back with a whole variety of trees, plants and herbs that may have been used to treat patients at the time.
    In the summer the garden can be the venue of performances of Shakespeare's plays.
    After Shakespeare's death Susanna and her husband moved to his last house - New Place.
    When you visit Hall's Croft, watch out for unusual sightings - the house is believed to be haunted! To recover from shock or just to cool down on a hot day, you may need to visit Drucker's Cafe next door, very nice coffee and cakes!

    Admission: Adult - 3.75 GBP, child - 1.75 GBP

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    Anne Hathaway's Cottage

    by evaanna Updated Oct 27, 2006

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    Anne Hathaway's Cottage
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    Set in beautiful countryside and just 1 mile from Stratford-upon-Avon, this charming Elizabethan farmhouse attracts crowds of visitors all the year round. To see it at its best though, come in the summer or spring to see its old-fashioned English garden and orchard in bloom. And don't miss the Shakespeare Tree Garden with every tree mentioned in his plays and a new series of sculptures by young artists depicting Shakespearean characters and scenes from his plays.
    The cottage was part of what was known as Newlands Farm in Shakespeare's time and it was here that he courted his future wife Anne Hathaway, the daughter of prosperous farmers.
    The house has not changed much since then: the low thatched roof, the timbered walls and lattice windows are still there. Inside there are many 16th century fireplaces and even the bed on which Anne Hathaway is said to have been born. The house remained the property of the Hathaway family until 1892, when it was bought by the Birthplace Trust, which removed many Victorian objects belonging to the family to give the cottage its 16th century look back.
    You can either take a guided tour of the house or explore on your own. Visitors with restricted mobility can take a virtual reality tour of the cottage.

    Admission: Adult 5.50 GBP, child 2 GBP

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    Harvard House

    by evaanna Updated Oct 28, 2006

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    Harvard House and Garrick Inn

    Walking along High Street and admiring the beautiful Tudor timber-framed houses, I was amazed to see the American flag on one of them. It looked so out of place here. But there is a good reason for it being there. For this beautiful ornate house used to be the home of Katherine Rogers, mother of John Harvard, a London Puritan who emigrated to the New World but died in 1638, bequeathing his precious law library and half of his estate towards building a college which later became Harvard University.
    The house itself dates back to 1596 and its excellent condition is largely due to the support of Edward Morris of Chicago, a millionaire and former student of Harvard University, who purchased it in 1909 and presented it to Harvard University and to the United States of America.
    Nowadays, the place houses the Museum of British Pewter, whose exhibits cover the last two thousand years of the use of pewter by man and include some very rare pieces, like Roman chargers, medieval pilgrim badges and a bowl with the Arms of King James VI of Scotland.

    Admission: Adult - 2.75 GBP, child - free when accompanied by an adult

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    The Falstaff Experience

    by evaanna Updated Oct 28, 2006

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    The Falstaff Experience, Stratford-upon-Avon

    We passed that house on our way to Holy Trinity Church without giving it a thought. The words 'Falstaff Experience' told me nothing but I admired the wonderful timber-framed building so I took a picture. I wish we had stopped and looked inside but it was one of those hot days of July 2006 when even walking was exhausting. And I didn't realise what we had missed. Formerly the Shrieve's (Sherriff's) House, the building now houses a living history museum with oddities, curiosities and spooky places. You can visit a Plague Cottage recreating the conditions of such places, the Tenement, which is an eerie reconstruction of Emm's Court, Stratford's most notorious slum just opposite the Shrieve's House, the Witches Glade where you have to convince the Witchfinder General you are not a witch, or face the 'Ducking Stool'. You can eavesdrop on drinkers discussing the Civil War as if it were just going on in the Falstaff's Tavern. And above all, you can visit the Haunted Chamber as the house is reported to be one of the most haunted places in Britain. If you are not scared or want to be scared, you might even join a midnight vigil, where you are almost sure to feel some weird sensations of being touched by ghosts and may even see them. Unfortunately, you will have to pay a lot for the thrill of it. Participation in a two hour vigil costs 30 GBP, and in a full four hour one ending at 2.15 am - even 60 GBP. Alternatively, you can just join one of the Ghost Tours, starting on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7.00, 7.45, 8.30 and 9.15 pm. Admission - 7.50 GBP.

    The Museum is open daily from 10 am till 5.30 pm.
    Admission: Adult - 5.00 GBP, concessions - 4.00 GBP, children free
    Children will not be admitted to the night vigils.

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    Gower Memorial

    by evaanna Updated Oct 22, 2006

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    Shakespeare's Memorial
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    This memorial to Shakespeare, presented to the town by Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower in 1888, is situated in Bancroft Gardens in Stratford. The central sculpture shows Shakespeare seated surrounded by the life-size statues of the best known characters of his plays: Hamlet, Prince Hal, Falstaff and Lady Macbeth, who represent, respectively, Philosophy, History, Comedy and Tragedy. The figures, cast in bronze from Gower's own designs and models are full of expression, even more effective because the characters are placed at ground level as if to say that they are like us. A delightful piece, or rather five pieces, of art!

    Click on the picture to see the other statues.

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    Bancroft Gardens

    by evaanna Updated Oct 21, 2006

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    Feeding swans and ducks on the Avon
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    Beautifully laid out, Bancroft Gardens stretch from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on one side to the Gower Memorial on the other. On a Saturday morning when we went there the gardens were full of people, locals and tourists alike, watching the colourful narrow-boats moored in the canal basin, sitting on the banks or stopping on the footbridge to watch the water fowl, but the largest crowd gathered near the water's edge to feed the swans and ducks. The gardens attract street performers too and are a great place where to spend a sunny morning or afternoon with the whole family.

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    The Guild Chapel and King Edward VI School

    by evaanna Updated Oct 27, 2006

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    The Guild Chapel and Shakespeare's Old School

    The Guild Chapel is not as frequented as Holy Trinity Church but it's a splendid building with some precious medieval frescoes inside, considered to be old when Shakespeare was still young. Even the bell in its tower still sounds the same as in his day. Adjoining the Chapel is the timber-framed building of the Guildhall, housing also Shakespeare's Old Grammar School. The place was built in 1428 as the home of a religious guild and has served as a school for centuries - it still is King Edward VI School. The lower floor of the building is a meeting-room and the schoolroom itself is on the upper floor and very seldom open to visitors.
    Right across Chapel Lane is the New Place where Shakespeare's last house stood. Pulled down by its manic owner, the Reverend Francis Gastrell who didn't like the masses of visitors to the place, it is now no more than a beautiful garden with a mulberry tree in the middle, which is said to have grown from a cutting of the original tree planted by Shakespeare himself and cut down in a fury by its last owner.

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    The Falstaff Experience

    by Mique Updated May 8, 2004

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    he entrance to the Falstaff Experience

    The museum describes itself as follows... 'A living museum we're dying to show you' Of course it os a bit of a tourist trap as is the whole of Stratford i guess. But the museum is fun nevertheless. And gives quite a bit of information on the side as well. But it is fragmented. It has a part on the story of the house itself (Shrieves House) . From there on you'll progress to the haunted chamber. Here you'll learn about religious persecution. This is all on the ground floor. It is rather small in this section so if there are people coming in after you the place feels rather crowded and it gives a bit of a rushed feeling. But we just let them pass and read on...

    When you go up the stairs you'll come to the Plague Cottage. Here you can read up on the Great Plague. And of course there are the visuals.. the Plague cottage itself and more. I for one didn't know that during the Great Plague almost 25 million people died in Europe. That is so many..

    From the plague Cottage you'll progress to the Witches Glade. Here i met up with the Witchfinder General. A truly scary fellow. After that i learned the origins of many a superstition.

    Then there was a part of the civil war. Which i found much less interesting. And the Fallstaff Tavern. A recreation of the tavern that used to be there.

    It ends on the ground floor again with the old curiosity shop. The most funny shop i have been to. And all of it is for sale.

    It'll take you somewhere between 30 minutes if you do the really fast round and an hour and a half if you decide to read up on everything.

    They also do ghost tours and midnight vigils. But we had left by that time. It would have been something to be in that ancient house at midnight....

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    Shakespeare's grave

    by Mique Updated Jul 4, 2004

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    Shakespeare's grave

    The Holy Trinity Church is an interesting church by itself but for me the main attraction was of course Shakespeare's grave. You can enter the first part of the church for free. But to actually get to the Chancel where you'll find the grave you have to pay one pound. Of course everybody does so because that's what we all came for. There is in't very much to see but at least i've seen it.

    Shakespeare obtained the right to be buried in the Chancel because he became a lay rector in 1605. And the privilege was extended to his family. So his wife Anne is buried next to him. And there are graves of other members of the family

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    Shakespeare's birthplace

    by Mique Updated May 8, 2004

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    Shakespeare's birthplace

    It is so interesting to visit Shakespeare's birthplace! First you'll go through the Shakespeare museum. Here you'll learn about him and his family. And there are quite a few objects on display and a maquette of the globe theater in London. But for me the most interesting bit was the house. You'll have to walk a small stretch through the garden. There is a small bench there where you can sit perfectly and watch the hordes of tourists pass by untill the line to get into the house is an acceptable one for you... ;-)

    When you enter the house you're actually pushed onwards by everyone who wants to get inside as well. So you have very little time here unless you're lucky and there is no one behind you. But once you get to the glove workshop you can take your time and have a good look around. The same goes for upstairs though. Tthere you'll walk in line past the displays again if it is very crowded.

    I got really shocked in the museum. Just before you exit the museum and enter the garden there is a first edition of Shakespeare's collective works on display in a glass box. It is made very obviously that photographing is not allowed. And just before i walked out i saw someone take a picture of that book with flash! Some people have no respect for artifacts.

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    A small monstrosity

    by Mique Written Jul 4, 2004

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    A 'little' present

    Apparently this little tower-thingy was a present from the american government. There is a small plaque saying that Henry Irving unveiled this thing in 1887. If my memory serves me well, it is a pump of some sorts.

    It looks rather out of place. Like it should have been in Disneyland in stead of Stratford. Then again, in 1887 Stratford might have been the closest thing to disneyland...

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    New Place

    by Mique Updated Jul 4, 2004

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    The foundation of New Place

    Shakespeare bought this place in 1597. When he died here, the house stayed in the family until his granddaughter died.

    The family that owned it afterwards opened the house for Shakespeare tourists. OF which there were already a fair few. The owner after that, reverend Gastrell wasn't too happy with all those people wanting to visit the place. He first choped down a tree that was said to be planted by shakespeare himself. When that didn't work and he also had to pay Land Tax for a building he only used a few weeks per year, he let the building be torn down. So nowadways only the foundations of New Place and a well are still there.

    Gastrell was driven out of Stratford and anyone with the same name was banned from ever living in stratford. Talking about a furious town....

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    Shakespeare's Birthplace - Garden

    by grandmaR Updated Aug 6, 2011

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    From inside the Birthplace -my sister & sundial
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    My dad took quite a few pictures of the garden with my sister on the sundial. The garden is a traditional English garden. That does not apparently mean historically accurate as to what it would have been in Shakespeare's time.

    Ernest Law tried to do a more historical reconstruction at New Place in the 1920s. He used a woodcut from Thomas Hill, The Gardiners Labyrinth (London 1586), noting that it was "a book Shakespeare must certainly have consulted when laying out his own Knott Garden". This showed quartered plats in patterns outlined by green and gray clipped edgings, each centered by roses

    Apparently there is/was also quite a number of attempts to make collect all the plants (and animals) mentioned in Shakespeare's plays at various locations. Sometimes these are called Elizabethan gardens.

    Opening times - All year. Daily except 23rd to 26th December.
    Admission - Individual charge for each property. Multiple ticket for all 5 properties: Adult £14.50, Child £7.20

    Read more: http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/shakespeare_houses_and_gardens#ixzz1UDekwpQ1

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