A Walking Tour ofStratford upon Avon
An easy walking tour of Shakespeare’s Stratford
One of the joys when visiting the historic, compact town of Stratford is the chance to transport oneself back to Shakespeare's time by a simple walking tour around this historic town. Around almost every corner, the visitor is blessed with the view of a beautiful, well preserved Shakespeare related building.
Let’s start in Henley Street…..
Shakespeare’s Birthplace is in Henley Street and is one of the five properties owned and managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in this attractive Tudor House in the heart of Stratford. This section of Henley Street is ‘pedestrian friendly’- no cars!
On continuing down Henley Street towards the River Avon and the flower covered traffic roundabout, the visitor reaches, on the right, High Street. (Straight through the roundabout is Bridge Street leading down to the river and Clopton Bridge).
A walk down High Street...
Gives the opportunity for window shopping or just browsing in many of the excellent shops. There is also a fine selection of coffee and tea shops in which to rest up and consult guide books.
On the corner of High Street at the roundabout is a white building. This was the home of Judith, Shakespeare’s youngest daughter, for some 36 years. The building is not all that remarkable except that prior to Judith Shakespeare’s husband, Thomas Quiney, purchasing the lease of the building, it was used as a gaol and had a cage for prisoners!
High Street is quite beautiful with an abundance of quaint ‘black and white’ buildings.
Further down the street on the right hand side is the ‘black & white’ Harvard House. This is without doubt the most ornate building in Stratford. It was lately the home to the Museum of British Pewter however the pewter is now housed in Scotland - the building is currently administered by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and is not always open for viewing. Go to the Harvard House article in this website for more information.
Immediately next door to Harvard House, there is another ‘black & white’ building – the Garrick Inn which was named after the Shakespearian actor David Garrick.
On the corner next door to Harvard House is a Pizza Hut restaurant located in a 17th century Black and White building – would there be any other like this in the world!
High Street has a name change at its intersection with Ely and Sheep Streets – it then becomes Chapel Street.
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In Chapel Street...
Is the splendid ‘black & white’ Tudor fronted Shakespeare Hotel.
- Nash's House
Next is Nash's House & New Place. Nash’s House is an interesting restored three story ‘black and white’ building, now a local history museum. New Place is the site of the house (next to Nash’s House) where Shakespeare spent his final years.
At the intersection of Scholars Lane and Chapel Lane, Chapel Street (formerly High Street) changes name again to Church Street.
Church Street...
On the corner of Church & Chapel is the Guild Chapel Stratford. The Guild Chapel is one of Stratford’s best known buildings. It was established by the Guild of the Holy Cross in the 13th century and was rebuilt by Sir Hugh Clopton at the end of the 15th century.
The Guild Chapel is the chapel of the adjacent King Edward VI Grammar School and is situated next door to the Guild Chapel in Church Street. This is the school that Shakespeare and his brother attended. It is still a working Grammar School. The school buildings were built in 1428.
Continue a short distance down Church Street and on the right is the Shakespeare Institute, formerly the home of Marie Corelli. When she purchased the house in 1901, it was known as Mason Croft and is a ‘Listed Building’ (protected by law).
An unobtrusive plaque to the right of the building’s front entrance informs visitors of Marie Corelli’s long association with it. Marie was instrumental in conserving Harvard House.
Old Town (road)...
On turning left down Old Town (road) towards the River Avon, the visitor comes upon the 16th century timber framed house - Hall's Croft. It was here that Shakespeare’s eldest daughter, Susanna, lived with her husband Dr John Hall. He was a prominent Stratford medical doctor. This is a splendid house to visit.
A short distance further on down Old Town is the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. This is a beautiful church with an interesting history. William Shakespeare, the world’s most famous playwright was baptised in the Church on 26th April 1564. When he died in 1616, he was buried in the Holy Trinity Church Chancel.
Buried beside him are his wife, Ann Hathaway; his daughter Susanna and son-in-law Dr John Hall plus John Nash, the first husband of Shakespeare’s grand-daughter Elizabeth.
There is much more to see in the Church including the American window in St Peter’s Chapel in the South Transept.
On leaving the Holy Trinity Church, head north through Avon Bank Gardens towards the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
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Royal Shakespeare Theatre  RSC Website
Home to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the adjoining Swan Theatre complex has recently been restored and thus transformed into a modern day Shakespearan Theatre.
There is now a 'Thrust Stage' - that is the stage protrudes out into the auditorium with the audience on three sides, much like the original theatres in Shakespeare's time.
There is a new cafe and rooftop restaurant.
Bancroft Gardens and Canal Basin
The beautiful park in front of the famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre is Bancroft Gardens and Canal Basin. The Gardens are bounded by the Town of Stratford on the west, the RSC on the south, the River Avon on the east and the Stratford Canal basin and Bridgefoot on the north.
For a longer walk or short drive:
- Anne Hathaway's Cottage
Cottage Lane, Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 9HH
Anne Hathaway's Cottage is about one mile (2 kms) outside Stratford town centre on the outskirts of the small village of Shottery.
The thatched half timbered cottage is a picture, being set in a garden packed with roses and other flowers and surrounded by rolling lawn. It is a substantial 12 roomed Elizabethan farmhouse.
- Mary Arden's Farm
Wilmcote, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 9UN
Mary Arden's Farm is about three miles (5 kms) from Stratford town centre in the village of Wilmcote. The farm is the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s mother.
The farmhouse and neighbouring Palmer’s Farm together with original farm buildings now form the Countryside Museum with a working Rare Breeds farm. Also located at the ‘Mary Arden’s House’ is the Steve Wright’s Hawkwise Falconry centre.
Shakespeare's Birthday
Every year, on the Saturday closest to St George’s Day (23 April), there is a wonderful pageant. This pageant takes the form of a procession led by the boys of King Edward VI Grammar School (Shakespeare’s old school).
All things change..
As with all things in life, there are changes. Building owners change and building names change. We do our best to keep up with these changes. If you see a change that we have not made, please tell us through the feedback email on our Home Page.
More Information
A local website that covers Stratford in more depth than we can is  Web:  Heart of England/ Tourist guide to Stratford
Google Map - Walking Tour of Stratford - Start Shakespeare's Birthplace


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