'This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.' William Shakespeare
On the 1st of July 2017, Vruchi and I celebrated our 7 years together! Living in London now, we thought we would take this opportunity to travel to England’s beautiful countryside for the weekend to celebrate this milestone.
Our town of choice was the unmistakeable Strathford upon Avon. We decided not to stay in Strathford itself, as it can get quite touristy. Instead, we stayed a little off-beat in a town called Chadwick End (approx. 2 hours drive from London). We found a cute little barn on AirBnb, literally in the middle of nowhere. It elegantly combined quaint English countryside with modern amenities and interiors. We had the whole barn to ourselves but the host left us some cute goodies in a welcome basket! Highly recommend staying here :)
After driving up to Chadwick End on the Friday night, on the Saturday morning we began our journey to Strathford upon Avon, which was just a short 20 minute drive into town. For those that do not know, this town has been made famous for being the town that William Shakespeare, arguably the greatest playwright the world has seen, was born and brought up and lived his final years in.
And the town does not let you forget that for one second! From Shakespeare themed pubs and cafes, to numerous souvenir shops and museums and even to Shakespeare themed door knobs, the town has done an amazing job at preserving his history and legacy, even to this date.
We began our day by walking along the town’s Main Street, called Chapel Street. The exquisite charm of the town is beautifully captured through rows of Tudor houses with windows full of flower pots, lined along every street.
With Vruchi and I being the coffee snobs that we are, of course our first stop had to be a good cafe. We happened to stumble upon a cafe called ‘Garden Cafe’ which lured us in with great smelling coffee. However, the inside of the cafe, leads you through to a simple backyard style garden, cozy and perfect for the summer - which you cannot see from the street! The garden is perfect for all you Instagram lovers :)
After getting our fix of caffeine and Vruchi getting her Instagram photos, we were now ready to start exploring.
The main attractions are his birthplace, his ‘new place’ (where he lived the later part of his life) and Hall’s croft (where his daughter and her husband lived). There’s also his wife, Ann Hathaway’s cottage and his mother, Mary Arden’s farm, which unfortunately we did not get time to explore this time around. Entry to all of these attractions can be purchased through a single ticket (£26 pp) and is valid for the whole year.
To truly immerse ourselves in Shakespearean culture, we thought it best to see one of his famous plays. Instead of seeing a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre, we ended up seeing a small re-enactment of Much Ado about Nothing, in the gardens of Hall’s Croft. A special mention must go to the drama students who came from the US to perform this play as a brilliant adaptation, set in post-WWII UK. We were told that this was part of their summer exchange program. This was a little gem that we only discovered from talking to the locals, so make sure you ask about what plays are currently on when you purchase your tickets.
We had a quick stop for lunch, at Strathford’s oldest pub called The Garrick Inn. It is a beautiful timber-framed building dating back to the 1400s! For vegetarians, be sure to try the spicy quinoa burger! Yum yum!
In the afternoon, we visited the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried. The graveyard around the Church is actually quite serene overlooking the canals. You could easily spend an hour exploring the grounds. It's a great place to unwind, pause and a take a break from the hustle bustle of the town-centre as you watch the row boats pass by.
To see all the attractions, it will take you a good couple of days. However, if by the end of it, you are all Shakespeared out, there is still a lot more that Strathford has to offer!
We happened to be there during the River Festival! For 2 days every Summer, the riverside comes to life with live music, food stalls (including wood fired pizzas, and homemade jams), and a giant ferris wheel. This small town goes all out on the river bed of Avon. Details of the River Festival can be found here :)
We decided to hire a row boat (£6 pp) and row along the river, watching the markets and cute English cottages go by. Despite almost killing some ducks, and nearly capsizing when Vruchi decided to swap places on the boat mid-river, this was definitely an afternoon well spent and a wonderful chance to appreciate the serenity of Stratford Upon Avon!
All in all, it was a weekend well spent. For those looking for a beautiful weekend away, only two hours north of London, we thoroughly recommend Strathford upon Avon. Elegantly blending history and culture, not to mention the friendly locals, this endearing town captured our hearts.
Not to mention, it was a fantastic way to celebrate 7 years with my darling wife.
I would not wish any companion in the world but you.