Thursday, September 13, 2018
Stratford-upon-Avon, England, United Kingdom
For our visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, we stayed just out of town at another magnificent manor, Billesley Manor, which dates from the early 17th century although it has been renovated many times since. The manor has large beautiful gardens a feature of which are the topiary plants in one of the sections. Shakespeare is reputed to have written some of his works in the library of the manor. They also have a first class restaurant where we had a very relaxing meal including a very good bottle of St Emilion Grand Cru, Chateau des Bardes – reasonably priced as well.
Stratford is, of course, all about Shakespeare. He was born there, his home still remains there and he is buried in Holy Trinity. Although a lot of his life in Stratford is documented he is still an enigma. For instance, how was he able to write plays about Denmark (Hamlet) and Verona (Romeo and Juliet) when there is no evidence that he travelled to those places. There are 10 years of Shakespeare’s life that are unaccounted for and it is speculated he may have joined the navy which enabled him to travel although another version is that he was teaching in Northern England. Whatever the true story, Shakespeare is by far the most successful writer in history and has sold more books that any other writer.
Stratford is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company and their theatre is on the banks of the Avon. The beauty of Stratford are the original black and white Tudor-era timber buildings which are throughout the town.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a nice place for a short visit but is obviously, very touristy. One of the nicest things we did was to walk along the River Avon from Holy Trinity back into town. There were quite a few barges going through locks and we crossed the river in the famous chain ferry, a manually operated ferry, opened in 1937 and the last such ferry built in Britain.