Make the pilgrimage to the place where it all began. As the name suggests, Shakespeare’s Birthplace is the house where Shakespeare was born in 1564 and raised during his childhood years.
It’s not the finest example of a famous writer’s ‘humble beginnings’, though. Shakespeare’s parents – John and Mary – were the owners of the largest house on Henley Street, where William was one of eight children. In fact, John Shakespeare was a man of such stature that he was elected Mayor of Stratford in 1568. It’s thanks to the family’s standing in the town that William was afforded a grammar school education, where he learned Latin and was introduced to the great classical authors Ovid, Plautus and Horace. His schooling was cut short, though. Shakespeare had to leave school at the age of fourteen due to his family’s financial difficulties – it’s a wonder that his plays convey such a wealth of topics considering he missed out on any kind of higher education.
The house on Henley Street is now owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, along with Shakespeare’s New Place, Hall’s Croft, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm. Today it’s been restored and turned into a small museum that’s open to anyone who wants to delve into the house’s rich history, including Shakespeare’s education as a boy.
As you’d expect with the birthplace of history’s most celebrated writer, the house has become a mecca for literature lovers. We’re not just talking about modern times here either. Some seriously famous names have made their way to Henley Street just to pay their respects to Shakespeare. Although, we’re not sure how respectful it was when Charles Dickens, Isaac Watts, Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Carlyle all signed the walls and windows when they came to visit. The guest registry book also includes the signatures of Thomas Hardy, Tennyson, Keats and Byron.
It’s a fascinating place and well worth ticking off the bucket list for any literature buffs coming to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon. A word to the wise, if you’re thinking of paying a visit to all five of the houses owned by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, then we’d recommend that you buy a Full Story Ticket, which will save you up to 60% off the cost of purchasing each of the attractions’ tickets individually.
To round things off, if you’re looking for somewhere to grab a coffee or a slice of cake after you’ve been around Shakespeare’s Birthplace, then we ought to mention Box Brownie. It does arguably the best coffee in the town and it’s only about 200 feet away.
Whether you're in Stratford-upon-Avon to soak up the culture and history of the town where William Shakespeare was born, or to enjoy the bucolic Warwickshire countryside, one of our Stratford hotels will suit you down to the ground.
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