What better way to spend Valentine's Day than wallowing in a bit of culture? Yesterday, we went to Stratford-upon-Avon to walk in the steps of Shakespeare.
I always find Shakespeare's birthplace magical. I guess it's partly having such an overactive imagination, but to me, the whole idea of walking where he might have walked is amazing. However, I have to confess that I often find myself wondering about the 'ordinary' people who lived before; everywhere is so full of history!
Lining the wall as you go in was one of our 2015 shortlist from the Information Category- The Shakespeare Wallbook'. (review here)
We were so lucky with the timing of our visit- we had the whole house almost to ourselves (MOST unusual!) and were able to wander through at our own pace, enjoying the empty rooms. My favourite part of the house is the workshop where John Shakespeare, William's father, made and sold gloves. You get a real sense of what would have happened here - and if you are foolish enough to take a sniff, there are little smell boxes to help you get a sense of what it would have smelt like! More than enough to make you appreciate modern life!
One of last year's short listed Information Category books, Shakespeare: Scenes from the Life of the World's Greatest Writer' by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom (review here) is an excellent source about his life at every stage and was sold in every location we visited!
Next stop, Anne Hathaway's Cottage. Another beautiful building offering a glimpse into life in the past. The gardens are beautiful in the summer and although not at their best at this time of year, still manage to offer a lovely walk with the sculpture trail and lavendar maze to enjoy.
Back in Stratford, we walked along the river to Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptised and later buried. It was a lovely walk, but very chilly!
As well as boasting of its Shakespeare connections, the church has an impressive collections of misericords, beautifully carved little ledges for learning against during long services.
From the church, it is just a short walk to Hall's Croft where Shakespeare's eldest daughter, Susanna, lived with her husband, Dr John Hall.
From here, it's a short walk to the Guildhall and recently opened Shakespeare's schoolroom. This was great fun as a Tudor master took us through some Latin and acting lessons! It was just like this...
Although not connected with Shakespeare, the desk with all the past students initials and names carved into it and the information on iPads about them was both moving and fascinating.
Finally, a visit to the location of New Place, the grand house that Shakespeare lived in once he became rich and famous.
A fantastic way to spend Valentine's day!