William Shakespeare was born the third eldest of eight children to John and Mary Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, in 1564. It wouldn’t be until nearly thirty years later that he became known as the Bard that he is today. He spent the majority of his life in Stratford, attending school there, courting (the original) Anne Hathaway, and eventually starting a family. All of these events can be linked to places that still exist today and will be covered in this walking guide to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon.
This walking guide to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon takes one hour to complete and covers three miles, a scenic route that encompasses both town and countryside alike. Travel from Shakespeare’s birthplace where it all began, meander through the weather-beaten roads of his life, to arrive at his headstone and posthumous monuments.
Have you ever wanted to walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps? Well, now you can!
“When we are born, we cry, that we are come To this great stage of fools”King Lear
Our tour begins in the heart of Stratford at Shakespeare’s birthplace. It was here that his father worked as a glove-maker, and where Shakespeare himself first started writing. A traditional post-and-beam house, it was made from local oak and stone and still retains most of its original features today. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust offers guided tours through each room where many traditional 16th-century pieces of furniture still exist, including the famed ‘second-best bed’. A copy of Shakespeare’s first folio, his father’s workshop, and Elizabethan clothing are also on show.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”As You Like It
Once done with Henley Street, it’s time to move from Shakespeare’s childhood to his later teenage years. He married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a wealthy farmer, at the age of eighteen. The farmhouse she’s believed to have grown up in still contains original furniture to this day, and tours are offered of both the house and the large nine acres of grounds outside. Just outside Stratford, this stunning Tudor cottage hosts one of the largest gardens in the area. It includes orchards, arboretums, butterfly borders, sculptures, woodland walks, and vegetable patches, to name but a few. Shakespeare courted Anne Hathaway in these very same gardens, and the cottage is often regarded as one of the most romantic places in England.
Holy Trinity Church
“It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician”Othello
From birth to death, the Holy Trinity Church played an important role in Shakespeare’s life. He was baptised there on the 26th of April 1564 and was buried there exactly fifty-two years later. Throughout his childhood and early adult years, he would have attended this church once a week with his family. The stone slab over his grave was carved with a curse, in typical Shakespearean fashion, condemning anyone who dares move his body. His wife, daughter, and son-in-law soon joined him.
The Shakespeare Memorial Fountain
“But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover’d country from whose bourn No traveller returns”Hamlet
From birth to death, many of Shakespeare’s most momentous moments happened in Stratford-upon-Avon. Posthumous, is no different. Aside from many of the original buildings being preserved and maintained to this day, the Shakespeare Memorial Fountain was also constructed in his honour. Originally known as the American Fountain, this commemorative clock tower was built during the late 1800s by Jethro Cossins. It was dedicated to both William Shakespeare and Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and can still be seen today in the square off Rother Street.
Map & Directions
Terrain: Flat, with paved footpaths and gravel walkways.
Bathrooms: One-minute walk to the left of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, as well as in the cottage itself.
Restaurants: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage has a café.
Shopping: Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage have gift shops.
- Shakespeare’s Birthplace: Daily, 10 am -> 4 pm
- Anne Hathaway’s Cottage: Temporarily Closed
- Holy Trinity Church: Mon-Sat, 11 am -> 1 pm
- Shakespeare Memorial Fountain: Daily, Open 24-hours
*as listed Aug, 2020