9 June 2016

2 Days in Stratford-upon-Avon (2 Μέρες στο Στράτφορντ-Απόν-Έιβον)

Stratford-upon-Avon has always been a popular destination to tourists, due to its status as the birthplace of William Shakespear. 

Its origins as a market town go back to the medieval period. The original charters of the town go back to 1196, making the town over 800 years old. Its name is a combination of the old English word 'straet', meaning 'street' and 'ford', indicating a site at which a road forded a river.

(you can enlarge any of the photos below by clicking on them)

What I saw

The Swan Fountain

It was designed in 1996 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the town's first charter, granted in 1196.

Residences of the humbler sort

Along Waterside and opposite the Royal Shakespear Theatre there is a row of 18th century cottages, once described as residences of the humbler sort. The brick facades cover the earlier timber framed structures.

The Swan Theatre

At the back of the Royal Shakespear Theatre lies this ornate Victorian structure.

Avon River

The river Avon passes through the town and creates beautiful recreational and relaxing spots for locals and tourists alike.

Holy Trinity Church

The earliest parts of this church date from the 13th century. The building demonstrates the three English Gothic architectural styles: Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular.

Inside the church you can see a copy of William Shakespear's register of baptism and register of burial. In his time, there were no birth registers or death registers. Because of this, we usually take the register of baptism as someone's date of birth, as the baptism usually took place within 48 hours from birth.

Inside the church you can also see Shakespear's grave (see photo above), as well as the graves of the rest of his family. The epitaph on his grave was written by Shakespear himself.

The Gower Memorial

The memorial was presented to the town by Lord Ronald Gower in 1888. It depicts Shakespear surrounded by characters from his plays - Hamlet, Prince Hal, Lady Macbeth and Falstaff, representing philosophy, history, tragedy and comedy.

Town Hall and other buildings

The present Town Hall (on the left) stands on the site of the first market hall, built in 1643. It was damaged during the civil war and rebuilt in 1767. The building in the middle is a fine example of high Victorian architecture, built in 1883. The terracotta frieze depicts scenes from Shakespear's plays. Finally, the timber building on the right was the home of the Woolmers, one of the town's wealthiest local families. 

Nash's House

Built around 1600, this was the home of Thomas Nash, who married Shakespear's oldest daughter. 

The Falcon Hotel

The building is in Chapel Street. Most of the west side of that street was destroyed by the Great fire of 1594. The street was then rebuilt in brick, replacing the half-timbered and thatched structures. One of the buildings that escaped the fire was the Falcon Hotel. It was originally a two-storey building, dating back to 1500. An additional storey was added in the 17th century.

The Guild Chapel

It began in 1269 by the Guild of the Holy Cross. 

The Guild Hall (Shakespear's school)

Adjoining the Guild Chapel is the Guild Hall, which dates back to 1417. Shakespear reputedly received his education here. 

The building is still used today, as part of the King Edward School, a public school. The photo above shows one of the actual classrooms.

Next to the Guild Hall are the Almshouses (see photo above), properties built in 1427 to house the aged and infirm of the town.

Hall's Croft

This fine timber building dated early 17th century was home to Susanna, Shakespear's daughter, and her husband's Dr John Hall.

The American Fountain

This fountain was a gift to the town from a millionaire Philadelphian, George W Childs.

The White Swan

This great looking pub used to be a farmhouse. Its interior dates back to the mid 15th century.

Shakespear's Birthplace

This property is where the Shakespear family lived. Shakespear's father was a successful glover and local civic figure, until he fell on hard times in the late 1570s.

Harvard House

Dated around 1596, it was built by Thomas Roger, a wealthy local butcher. Thomas was the grandfather of John Harvard, founder of the Harvard university in the USA.

The Windmill Inn

The Windmill holds the longest unbroken licence in Stratford, dating from Shakespear's time. The building was built in 1599 and became an ale house a year later.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

This lovely thatched cottage was where Shakespear's wife lived. It has been described as having the most romantic view in England.

Other photos from the town

I really loved Stratford-upon-Avon. It's a very beautiful town, full of history. The river Avon adds to this beauty and a stroll along its banks can surely inspire any poet/writer.

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