Today our class woke up early in the morning in order to catch our early train to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. We would only be staying for one night, but we had watched a play the night before and gotten back home after 11pm so we were all justifiably sleep-deprived from packing the night before.
The first house we visited was actually a mini-museum of artwork and literature created by and about Shakespeare. We originally planned to just visit the first house as a group before visiting the other houses by ourselves, but because we apparently booked the group tickets then we had to travel together as a group, which meant slower walking to wait for those who wanted to take photos (like me).
We then visited Shakespeare’s birth home, where he was born and raised with his brothers and sisters. The bedrooms were really interesting because Shakespeare apparently shared a room with his younger brothers, though his youngest brother was born just after he turned 18, when he got married (scandalously young) to a 26 year-old Anne Hathaway. We also visited his father’s workshop, and were informed of the different types of gloves available: white lambskin gloves for the ladies, 2-fingered gloves for workers, black gloves for the lords, etc.
Before arriving at the next house we visited the gift shop, which had an amazing array of items, including a William Shakespeare’s Star Wars text! I really enjoyed reading the Shakespearean Insults magnets, but for the price tag it wasn’t worth buying. The ‘to be or not to be’ t-shirt reminded me of the letters projected on screen when you visited your eye doctor – interesting, but weird!
The next house on our list was Nash’s House, owned by Thomas Nash and his wife Elizabeth (Shakespeare’s granddaughter). On the way we passed by a Dr. Who-friendly store, and Anne Hathaway’s tea house (where one afternoon tea set costs a person £12.50!). My favorite room in the house contained the ‘Top Ten Shakespeare characters’ gallery, because of the caricatures of each person – Beatrice had a female symbol on her dress (similar to Superman’s ‘S’), and Cleopatra was using modern makeup in front of a vanity table!
Finally, we visited Hall’s Croft, the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband Dr. John Hall. The house had a large set of life-size figures in the main room display – people such as the doctor and his wife (of course), but also Henry Smith, Marian Stuart, Marie Corelli, Anthony Quayle, and Josephine Macleod. There was also a replica of the bedroom, with text containing information on the Elizabethan baby’s cradle.
The gift shop contained several items not found in the previous one, such as the ‘Out, damned spot!’ erasers and the Shakespearean insults mug. However I did not buy anything here because I had already purchased two magnets in the previous shop, and the candy (while tempting) was just too expensive for my taste. Overall it was a really fun experience walking around town and seeing what Shakespeare’s life would have been like growing up!