William Shakespeare, born in 1564, is widely regarded as the English language’s most prominent playwright, whose plays have lost nothing for being centuries old. Shakespeare’s sceptered isle offers plenty of attractions for fans of the Bard who want to wallow in their hero’s natural habitat. We narrowed it down to the top five places for fans of Shakespeare to check out on the next visit to the UK.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Shakespeare was born here, the son of John Shakespeare, a glover, and his wife Mary Arden. Their son grew up here, and brought his wife, Anne Hathaway Shakespeare here, where the couple lived for a time. The home on Henley Street has been restored by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust as a museum dedicated to the playwright’s early years. Live performances of his plays are shown daily. The Shakespeare’s Treasures Exhibition changes its display items every six months. You will not be the only admirer of Shakespeare to visit; England’s literary luminaries Charles Dickens, John Keats, Walter Scott and Thomas Hardy also came here to pay homage.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
Anne Hathaway’s cottage, located in a village called Shottery, a mile away from Stratford, may be just as famous as the home where Shakespeare was born. The Hathaways must have known that they were treading on one-day-famous turf; some of the furniture in the Tudor farmhouse belongs to Hathaway descendants to give it a touch of authenticity. Shakespeare was 18, Anne in her mid-twenties when they were wed, and daughter Susanna’s birth followed within six months of the wedding bells. The 12-room farmhouse, known then as Newland Farm, retains its 16th century furnishings and décor, and was in fact still occupied by Hathaways, although as tenants rather than owners, when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acquired it in 1892.
Holy Trinity Church
The church where Shakespeare was buried remains a center for worship today, which might either be a source of inspiration or an insurmountable challenge for vicars writing their sermons. The records show that he was baptized at the church on April 26, 1564, and buried on April 23, 1616. His family members are also buried in the church graveyard. The famous poetic epitaph which is on his grave slab wasn’t put there because he couldn’t resist rhyming unto death; it’s a warning against digging up his bones, as was the custom when room was needed for new bodies. Shakespeare handled the curse eloquently: “Blest be the man that spares these stones and curst be he that moves my bones.”
The reconstruction of the London theatre where, over four hundred years ago, Shakespeare not only trod the boards but wrote the plays, is located near the original Globe Theatre. The theatre hosts lives performances of his plays in an authentic setting, right down to the thatched roof. But remember, authentic means no modern equipment, so expect to see your Shakespeare in the raw: no electricity, spotlights, or microphones. All the world’s a stage, and for five pounds, you can sample life as a groundling member of the audience—that means you’re standing.
Mary Arden’s Farm
Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, came of good stock; the Ardens were prominent in Warwickshire. The farm is a recreation of her home, with lots of hands-on activities for children to enjoy. The rustic work would have been familiar to Shakespeare, and because it’s unfamiliar to our urban society, it will be even more enjoyable: visitors can give archery a try, enjoy a display of falconry, or a demonstration of a blacksmith at work. Tudor dancing, light refreshments, and nature trails are all part of the things to see and do.