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ENGLAND: Day 4-Stratford-on-Avon

On the fourth day of the trip, we get down to some real literature! We head to Paddington station for an early train ride to Shakespeare's childhood home-Stratford-on-Avon.

Stratford is a gorgeous little town, full of quaint charm and little shops. The streets are lined with old Elizabethan houses, some of which seem certain to fall if you so much as look at them. Our first stop was the town center, and the Shakespeare monument.

 The statue is surrounded by our other statues, Hamlet, Flastaff, Prince Hal, and Lady Macbeth, representing Philosophy, Comedy, History, and Tragedy respectively. The whole thing is wrapped in a garden of flowers that are mention in Shakespeare's plays.

Then we hopped on our bus tour and headed over to Shakespeare's birthplace!

Shakespeare's father was a glovemaker. 

This was part of a children's scavenger hunt that goes through all five historical houses.

Outside, we were treated to songs and scenes from some classic Elizabethan players. I also bought a nine-foot poster for my classroom showing all of Shakespeare's plays.

The street outside Shakespeare's birthplace is full of quaint little shops.
Very British.

This jester represents the many fools in Shakespeare

Even more British.

I mean, you have to get a least a couple of phone booth photos.

Then back on the bus, and over to Shakespeare's grave.  Birth to death: nice bit of symmetry there. I'm glad they've kept his remains in Stratford. There have been proposals to move him to Westminster Abbey, under his memorial next to Chaucer, but I think Shakespeare deserves a bit more distinction than being lumped next to all the the other notables in Westminster. This way, Shakespeare gets an entire town to himself.

This is the church where Shakespeare was baptized, buried, and his daughter married. It has been a place of worship since the 1200's (maybe eariler?) and is still an active church today. It's really amazing.

The man himself.

"Good friend, for Jesus sake, forbear/to dig the dust enclosed here/Blessed be the man who spares these stones/And cursed be he who moves my bones."

Maybe that's why they've never moved him to Westminster. The origin of the inscription is uncertain, but could very well be left by the Bard himself to be placed on his tomb.

Flanked by his family.

Original records of his baptism and burial from the church archives.

The bust above the grave.

After that, we toured Hall's Croft, home of Shakespeare's daughter and her husband, John Hall. (No pictures allowed.) It was a really cool example of a wealthy Elizabethan House. There is currently a project underway to rebuild "New Home," Shakespeare's Stratford mansion he built once he made his millions and moved back from London. 

Hall's Croft

Next we went to Arden Farm, where Shakepeare's mother Mary Arden grew up. It is a working Tudor farm, and utterly fantastic. Blows the pants off Conner Prairie, mostly because everything is authentic and in use, not just for show. We were lucky enough to arrive in time for the bird-of-prey demonstration.

Then we headed back to the main town, for a little wandering, shopping, and dinner at the Old Thatch Tavern, which is exactly what it sounds like. One of about three buildings in Stratford with the original thatch roof.

The Shakespeare Monument, donated by America

Then we took the train back to London and Paddington station

Kori is sad she cannot find a bear, and we miss our Teddy.


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