Stratford is one of the must-see destinations in and around the Cotswolds, popular because of its status as the birth place, home town and final resting place of Britain’s most famous son, William Shakespeare.
The Bard is everywhere in Stratford, from the statues of some of his best beloved characters in Bancroft Gardens (overlooked by William himself), to the houses scattered across the town that played a role in Shakespeare’s life.
One cannot visit Stratford without experiencing one of Shakespeare’s plays, and some of the most famous and world renowned theatre spaces in the UK are in Stratford, including the riverside Royal Shakespeare Theatre, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The RSC is one of the best theatre companies in the world, and has had actors such as Kenneth Branagh, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and most recently David Tennant in his popular production of Hamlet treading its boards.
Many Shakespeare fans also visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage, a romantic, traditionally thatched abode where William’s future wife was courted in its low ceilinged rooms and beautiful country gardens.
Shakespeare’s birthplace is now also a tourist hot spot where you may even catch actors acting out some of Shakespeare’s famous scenes in the rooms where the man himself grew up and perfected his craft. Shakespeare’s gravestone can also be visited at the Holy Trinity Church.
There is plenty to do for non Shakespeare fanatics, including the popular Stratford Butterfly Farm, a tropical paradise by the river where some of the world’s rarest and most beautiful butterflies fly freely as you walk amongst palm trees and lagoons.
Stratford has a mixture of the old and new, from high street shops and restaurants to Tudor buildings and traditional tea shops, as seen on popular shopping streets such as Henley Street, where street artists and thespians entertain shoppers and tourists. For those wanting to escape the bustle, a peaceful walk alongside the green banks of the Avon is never far away.
Stratford is a compact town packed with culture, history, activity and celebrations. It’s perfect for a day out or a longer stay, and is an essential stop for anyone with a passion for the Bard.