Sponsored by National Express
Last week I visited Stratford-Upon-Avon. The name sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You might have already heard about it, especially if you had classic English literature in school. The beautiful town of Stratford-Upon-Avon is Shakespeare’s birth town. And it’s not only full of Shakespeare’s history, it’s also a really lovely little medieval town – perfect to explore by foot.
Also, it’s super easy to get to Stratford-Upon-Avon from London (and from lots of other places in the UK really). Just take the National Express coach and in a bit more than two hours you will arrive. That’s what I did. I left in the morning around 9 from Victoria Coach Station and at noon I already had a late breakfast at a super cosy café. I would recommend to stay one night in Stratford-Upon-Avon if you really want to visit all the sights and also have some relaxing time in the town’s cafes and pubs. I just came for a day and, apart from the breakfast and a glass of wine in a café, I was busy sightseeing until I took the coach home again in the early evening. I still didn’t make it to Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother.
The cute tearoom: Orangemabel Stratford upon Avon
Exploring Shakespeare’s Roots
Shakespeare’s Birth Place is the place where he was born and grew up with his parents and siblings. He also spent his first year of marriage in the house with his wife, Anne Hathaway. Visiting this beautiful house you will not only feel set back in time but also learn a lot about Shakespeare’s upbringing and family life. The rooms are all furbished and it’s really easy to imagine what life must have been like when Shakespeare was a little boy. There is also live-theatre in the garden :)
Shakespeare’s New Place was his family home from 1597 until he passed away in 1616. The house was demolished in 1759 – the story of why this happened will be explained when you visit New Place. The reason why it was demolished has nothing to do with Shakespeare, yet it is still a nice little historical story. Make sure you join the 15 mins speech about the place during which drawings of Shakespeare’s house are shown. New Place also has a lovely garden.
Hall’s Croft is the beautiful Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, the physician John Hall. Like Shakespeare’s Birth Place, Hall’s Croft is also furbished and walking through the quaint little rooms feels like you have travelled back in time and dinner is about to get served – at a dinner party 400 years ago :)
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is the birth place of Shakespeare’s wife. It is a lovely 500 year old cottage which is said to still have the same floor in the kitchen that was established by Anne Hathaway’s grandfather.
When Anne Hathaway lived in the cottage, it is believed that it only had one floor and looked pretty much like in the drawing below. Over the years more floors were added and the cottage developed into a lovely and cosy home for the families that lived there over the last hundreds of years.
There was so much that I learnt about Shakespeare’s life that day. Before I was able to actually really process everything (you are bombarded with information at each sight you visit) I already found myself back in the bus to London. At least then I had a couple of hours to read all the material that I collected during the day. So, as mentioned before, ideally make Stratford-Upon-Avon a weekend getaway so you have more time to explore everything.
How to get there
I collaborated with National Express for this post, so I was able to try one of their coaches from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon. National Express is one of the largest operators of coach services in the UK. They offer high frequency services linking more than 900 destinations and coach services to all major UK airport 24 hours a day. I personally like to travel by bus as this always reminds me on the time I backpacked through Latin America. And, honestly, it was very relaxed and stress-free to take the National Express coach to Stratford-Upon-Avon. They have air-conditioning, leather seats, power sockets (!) and clean toilets. I fell asleep 10 mins into the journey and woke up as we were approaching Stratford-Upon-Avon :)