Yesterday was a first for me. I finally got to see Shakespeare! My boyfriend said that I can’t actually see him -but why not? I saw people dressed as him and also his grave… good enough.
Yes, Stratford was a lovely day out and the perfect place for the complete Shakespearian geek like me. I let my inner geek out first thing in the morning as I took out my William Shakespeare bag out – basically a small shopping bag with his head on. Haha. And I got out my Shakespeare trivia cards for the journey ; -) Luckily, my boyfriend’s Mum, my sister and good friend, weren’t put off and we all had a lovely day.
We saw four main places…. either walking or hopping on our partly open-top bus:
It was all very historical and interesting. It was fascinating to see inside the houses and get an idea of what life was like then, in addition to just admiring the beauty of the outside. You could imagine Shakespeare walking up to Ann Hathaway’s cottage (which is actually a massive farm house and has fondly been referred to as a cottage because of idyllic appearance) to ‘court’ her. Would he have been nervous to see her family? And tipped his hat off to her father out of respect? We even saw the bed that Will may have had-a-way with our Hathaway 😉 The ‘cottage’ was so lovely, that I would have happily moved in (add some heating, electricity and take away the millions of nosy tourists of course 😉 ).
A personal highlight for me was the character room at Nash’s house. Naturally, a purpose built room for tourism – but it was great to see displays of the ‘top ten characters’ and you could add your own favourite Shakesspearian character to a board too.There was a quiz on the wall too! I felt like I was at some sort of Shakespeare convention – not a ‘Trekkie’ but a ‘Shakey’ if you will 😉 I added ‘Othello’ to the favourite character board. That is my favourite play and I love that Othello himself is a little different to other charcters. He is black, yet in an important position and very well-respected for the time period. He is a calm, collected and gentle character, yet jealousy results him in him murdering his own wife. I love the dramatic change in him throughout the play and shows, perhaps, that jealousy (or another strong emotion) can drive any of us to murder. Sadly Othello didn’t make their top-ten though:
Top Ten Characters
Juliet (Romeo and Juliet)
- Hamlet (Hamlet)
- Bottom (A Midsummer’s Night Dream)
- Beatrice (Twelfth Night)
- Mercutio (Twelfth Night)
- Romeo (Romeo and Juliet)
- Falstaff (Henry IV part 1 and 2 and Merry Wives of Windsor)
- Macbeth (Macbeth)
- Henry V (Henry V)
- Cleopatra (Anthony and Cleopatra)
The hop-on, hop-off tour bus gave us much entertainment. One reason being, we went on the open-top section and it was freezing and blowy! We also kept having to duck when we passed trees (which was a lot), which was scary but also extremely funny! The tour guide on our bus (when we wimped out and sat inside the bus) was very informative and entertaining. She told us a few facts about general Tudor life:
As we drove past a road, she told us it used to be a popular highway. In wet conditions, it became very soft and poor people would come and ‘cup’ mud in their hand in order to make pots. This left many holes in the road… and you’ve guessed it, that’s where the term ‘pot-holes’ comes from!
- Tudors used to use frog salvia to aid their sore-throats. Scientists have since found that there is infact an enzyme in frog saliva that has antisceptic in it. So they weren’t (too) crazy… and that is where the term ‘a frog in your throat’ comes from.
- Four-poster beds became popular in Tudor times. I thought it was a warmth related reason. It comes from the fact they had hatched roofs though. There wasn’t any ceilings in bedrooms, so rubbish and bugs would fall from the hatching onto people in bed. Someone ( a man apparently -I’m not convinced!) invented the canopy like part in order to catch the bugs and rubbish. Clever! It then became a fashion statement too.
- My favourite fact also links to the thatched roofing. When Tudors realised that thatching was a fire hazard, they all had to change to tiling. A team from the town committee went to an inn to tell the keeper that he had to change his roof to tiles. He gave them so much free ale that they forgot to ask him! So it is still thatched today:
So I had a very Shakespeare-y day and I loved every second! The nearby buildings were all named after Shakespeare quotes or plays or characters. I even had a milkshake called Much A Do About Oreo!
I fully recommend a day at Stratford to anyone who is interested in Shakespeare – even if you are not there is still so much to do. We paid £25 and this included the bus (which you can get on and off as much as you wish) and also the entry to 3 houses. There are still 2 main other houses to see and a boat trip that we didn’t do – so there is just so much! And I’ll be definitely going back….. no ‘to go or not to go’ question 😉
For a recent post about Shakespeare’s birthday, take a look at this: