The home tells the story of the Shakespeare family who rose from poverty into a reasonable wealth. The most notable character you’ll hear about (besides the main man Bill) is John Shakespeare, Williams father. He was glover by trade, though in is time he also served as an alderman (a member of the local council) of Stratford upon Avon and later became Bailiff which would have seen him leading the then small village. Through the family’s elevation in stature you’ll see the many aspects of everyday Tudor life, things like how they worked day to day, what sort of foods they ate and how they spiced up their blander dishes and what their furnishings represented to their neighbours. For example, did you know that a bed would likely be placed next to a window, just so people knew how rich you were? They also cover a few of the common superstitions of the time for those interested in the spookier side of history. If you only visit one of the attractions on this list this would be my top recommendation, it covers all the basis from Shakespeare’s work and influences to his life away from it. It’s also the perfect appetiser for the next few places.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – For those of you with a fondness for romance you’ll want to take a trip to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage which sits roughly one mile west of Shakespeare’s Birthplace in what was once a village just on the outskirts of Stratford upon Avon called Shottery. This home was first built in the 15th Century, with extensions made in the 17th. It’s renowned for its idyllic beauty, with its Tudor style timber framing, its cobbled brick chimneys and it’s thick thatched roof. Though what really tops view off are its magnificent gardens filled with lush greens. A fitting testament to the woman who won the heart of the one of the biggest romantics in history. In the cottage you’ll discover the story of the Hathaway family, whose members occupied the home until 1911. They shared many of their stories with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust before they left, stories that are still told here today.
Shakespeare’s New Place – New Place was Shakespeare’s grand home and final resting place. The house itself was the second largest in the town and built in 1483 by Sir Hugh Clopton, Lord Mayor of London. To give you an idea of the size it had five gables on its exterior and housed a total of ten fireplaces within, there was also enough space on its grounds to house two separate barns along with an orchard. Unfortunately, the home has since been destroyed, instead you’ll find space here filled with fascinating sculptures and works of art related to William Shakespeare along with beautifully designed gardens that’ll take your breath away. Once again, take advantage of the guides here, they’ll paint a picture of what the house was really like and run through the story of both its construction and its demise. They know so much more though so don’t be afraid to ask questions.