First thing in the morning I ran over to Starbucks in the center of town for free internet and bad espresso to upload a bunch of photos and blog posts. I did a quick run around to the Royal Shakespeare Company to see what tickets were available, if any. THere were none that were any good at this point. I had thought about getting tickets a few months before, but no one was sure that they were going to have the energy to sit through a full production of Macbeth, so we let it to the fates. and the Fates farted in our general direction.
I went back to the hotel, got Yulia and Sasha, and we went over to the Birthplace and Shakespeare center instead. It began pouring rain once we got there, so this worked out well. The presentation inside the center is great, Taking us between exhibits and history, we honestly wished it was longer (the only time I have ever said that about anything involving Shakespeare), and we ran through the garden to the house. It was in remarkably god shape for it’s age, and re reconstructed bits all hid themselves well. Guides explained bits of history in various sections, which was all quite fun, then we made a mad dash through the gift shop, in a vain attempt to escape, but Sasha got caught and purchased a quill pen.
The rain had left us alone for a bit, so we went about the shops in the street, slowly making our way to the other two main Shakespeare houses in the center of town. We had a good afternoon tea at the Hathaway Tea Room, which is in a building from 1610, but the Tea Room itself is quite new, being from 1931.
That led us over to “New House” the house that Shakespeare retired to and died in, which stands out as it isn’t there anymore. It is quite literally, a hole in the ground, with archeologists and all. The presentations are in the neighboring house, which is from the same period and is done up with the exhibits and history on the missing building, along with a very large sculpture garden out back. A very beautiful setting to say the least.
Next we went over to Halls Croft, the house of his Daughter. The preserved home at this point was far less interesting than the exhibits, this hall had a great series of costumes from productions of his plays, including those from Patrick Stewart and David Tennant. I really have to see those productions now.
This was close to the church where Shakespeare and his family are buried, so we went there to complete the day’s tour. We were just in time to get swamped in a massive group of students coming in for their visit. But despite the loud crowd, it is an amazing cathedral, with an amazing memorial. We spent quite a while just looking at all the elements and reading the historical plaques. We took our time while the student groups ran in and out pretty quickly.
Four big historical stops in one day was a lot of Shakespeare, but if we weren’t so physically tired, we could have done more. But we were tired, and couldn’t keep moving, so we went back to the Hotel for a rest. Yulia and I left Sasha in the room by herself to watch TV and nap, and we headed to the Lobby to have a drink and read. Originally, we were going to sit on the patio by the river, but the rain had started again, and was windy to boot.
Later that evening, we all walked over to Royal Shakespeare Company on the odd chance that some tickets came up, and two did, but we were looking for three, so we just toured the building instead. The remodel is apparent when you see the older walls inside the building, and they even have three chairs bolted inside the upper wall to show where the last rows used to be. The newer design is a much smaller venue, with a thrust stage, and a second theater for small performances. We saw a bit of the opening of Macbeth on the video screen, and you could see how personal the new venue was. The tour was enough for us, and we were done with Stratford.
On to London.