Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Visiting the Wordsmith: Stratford Spring 2015

On a surprisingly balmy Saturday, I set off with Harlaxton’s Shakespeare class and my visiting boyfriend on a journey to Stratford—the birthplace of the famous playwright himself. I’d heard really wonderful things about the city, and I have to admit it was every bit as lovely as I’d hoped.  The drive to Stratford was approximately two hours (a.k.a. a nice nap)’s distance away from the Manor and we arrived just before lunch.  The day was left open for student exploration, but every student received a voucher that would get them into five different Shakespeare attractions: Shakespeare’s birthplace, Harvard House, Hall’s Croft, Holy Trinity Church, and Shakespeare’s grave within Holy Trinity Church.

In order to avoid the mass bus exodus to Shakespeare’s birthplace, my friends and I decided to try to find Harvard House first. On the way there, we somehow made a wrong a turn, and accidentally ended up at Hall’s Croft instead. Hall’s Croft, home to Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna Hall, and her husband, Dr. John Hall, is a 17th century house that has been furnished with period accurate 400 hundred year old furniture. A garden at the back of the house was particularly nice to see in the sunny (yes, sunny) weather.

            After Hall’s Croft, we walked to Holy Trinity Church. The graveyard in front of the church felt very old; many of the tombstones were so eroded that the names were illegible, but it was oddly picturesque.  Inside the church the graves of William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway were set into stone and surrounded by colored glass windows.

            The river Avon abuts the church and we were able to eat lunch next to the church and watch an assortment of adorable canines parade by with their owners. The next stop on our adventure was Shakespeare’s birthplace. We were able to walk through the same house as the great poet and stand outside it and listen to live performances given by actors and actresses. The lovely Cat Lopez and Neil Brookhouse were actually brave enough to perform a scene from Much Ado About Nothing as Beatrice and Benedick.

Harvard House rounded out our Shakespeare site-seeing, and we ended up in Anne Hathaway’s Tea Room. While drinking Hathaway tea, music from the The Lord of the Rings started playing in the background and it was pretty glorious. Some more exploring and an unfortunate drop of my phone in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s royal toilet bowl filled up our time until the 7:00 showing of Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theater. The acting was spectacular and the sets were incredible. It was the perfect way to end our time in Stratford and despite getting lost once more on the journey back to the bus, the trip was an overall success!
-Danielle Gillespie
Photo Credits: Tyler Gorin photo one, Cat Lopez (all others)


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