Today we’re off to Stratford-upon-Avon, and a Shakespeare experience. Once again we are in the mountains, where we can look down on the houses and villages far below. The land is as green as ever along the way.
We had a rest stop at the WELCOMEBREAK, where there was a bigger Starbucks operation than I’ve ever seen in the United States.
We received a little Shakespeare trivia along the way: It appears that Shakespeare may have drunk himself to death although it is by no means certain.
Ben Johnson regarded him as the best. His plays were certainly the best attended at the time. Some feel that Christopher Marlowe, if he had survived as long as Shakespeare would’ve been more highly regarded. As it was, he died early in a barroom brawl.
We all know about the old Globe and its open roof. People of all economic statuses attended those performances together. On the other hand, Blackfriars theater had a roof, and the tickets cost quite a bit more.
Our first mission was to get lunch and we had delicious sandwiches in a small tearoom, mine a tuna melt.
Our next visit was to the Shakespeare Center, which was also the
entrance to Shakespeare’s home. The whole facility was clearly designed to handle a huge amount of traffic. It was hard to know how much of the building was original. One of the guides explained that half of the furnishings and other
items in the home were authentic period items and the rest were reproductions. They make no claim that any of the items are originals, but he hinted that, in fact, some of the items were in the house at the time. We got a taste of Shakespearean acting as we left.
There was a bit of a wait for the bus and, we sat for a while at an outside table, just resting. The waitress must’ve known our intention, and never brought us a menu.
We next took a short ride to Ann Hathaway’s house. She was Shakespeare’s wife. At the time, the house consisted of two rooms, or maybe it was two bedrooms. Early on the building was expanded toward the kitchen and a generation later it was expanded in the other direction to its present size. The outside consisted of gardens, which were not quite authentic because in those days there would be animals grazing instead.
We next visited Hall’s Croft. Shakespeare’s eldest daughter was Suzanne and she had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married the only doctor in town, John Hall. There was a section of stone floor that Shakespeare had surely walked on, and now we had walked in his footsteps. Our guide spent a great deal of time on a very interesting discussion of a painting, which was not of anybody in Shakespeare’s family, but represented the symbols of wealth that Elizabeth and John Hall probably exhibited.
We then headed back to the hotel for a short nap before dinner.
We took a short walk to our dinner venue and were treated to four Shakespearean selections which I believe were from Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, the Taming of the Shrew, and Midsummer Night’s Dream. The consensus was that they were well done.
Next was dinner, consisting of the selections we had made days earlier, and most people seemed to have forgotten what they ordered, but we worked it out. We discussed how hard it was to get coffee with dessert instead of later, but we had worked that out long ago, by giving up.