With half-timbered buildings weathered by time, William Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon is full of character that you can’t help but be charmed by. England’s most famous playwright was brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, and walking around these 10 must-see sights unlocks Shakespeare’s story, from the house he was born in, to where he studied and where he’s laid to rest.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Henley Street
In the town centre, between shops and cafes, is Shakespeare’s birthplace. The timbered facade stands out amongst the brick buildings around it. Shakespeare was born in April 1564, and his father John Shakespeare used part of the property for his job as a glove-maker. The family later expanded the building’s footprint by constructing a two-bedroom cottage for Shakespeare’s sister, Joan.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust now owns and preserves the property for us to experience today. Visitors can see where William Shakespeare grew up, and roam around the gardens where actors perform poems and extracts from his famous plays from time to time.
Shakespeare’s New Place in Chapel Street
Following his success as a playwright in London, Shakespeare purchased a large family house in Stratford-upon-Avon known as New Place. Though it was later demolished, American sculptor Greg Wyatt created a series of bronze artworks in the grounds that encapsulate some of Shakespeare’s works like Macbeth, King Lear and The Tempest.
Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall in Church Street
Not far from New Place is Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall where you can learn about Shakespeare's formative years in education, and how he was inspired by theatre. The museum also shares more insight into the town's local history with a courtroom and medieval chapel to explore.
Hall’s Croft in Old Town
Hall’s Croft documents the home life and medical practices of the 16th and 17th century thanks to an interesting collection of furniture from this period. The property was home to William Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband John Hall, who was a physician, and who used the gardens to grow herbs for medicine.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery
The Hathaway family home is undoubtedly one of the prettiest cottages in England, retaining many of its original features thanks to generation after generation living there right up to 1911, almost 20 years after the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust purchased it in 1892.
Sitting just outside of Stratford-upon-Avon in Shottery, it’s the family home of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway. The beautiful garden was designed by horticulturist Ellen Willmott, following the Trust’s acquisition.
Holy Trinity Church in Old Town
Next to the River Avon is Holy Trinity Church, the resting place of William Shakespeare and the place where he was baptised. This place of worship has over 1,000 years of history to discover, including a Medieval Font and Chained Bible.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Waterside
Officially opened in 2011 by Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre celebrates the works of Shakespeare with stage performances and modern adaptations that provide an intriguing twist on these famous tales.
The Theatre also hosts modern musicals and productions by other passionate writers, including Matilda The Musical and The Magician’s Elephant.
Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote
Just outside of the historic town centre in the nearby village of Wilmcote is Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Characters in costume bring to life the daily activities of a working farm in the Tudor era, showing how Shakespeare’s family would have grown their own crops and prepared their food.
Tudor World in Sheep Street
Embark on a journey through this gripping period of British history, when King Henry VIII and later his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, ruled over England. Inside Tudor World you’ll pick up fascinating facts and secrets of the Tudors, and learn about the Bubonic Plague and Witch Trials.
To break away from all that sightseeing in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, pause for an ice cream or a traditional chip shop lunch in Bancroft Gardens. There's a selection of takeaways and restaurants along nearby Waterside and Sheep Street. The gardens are also home to the listed Gower Monument which depicts Shakespeare and characters from his plays. Bancroft Gardens' riverside location is perfect for a scenic stroll or gentle boat ride past moored narrow boats and recreation ground.
To complete a family day out in Stratford-upon-Avon, head over to the opposite side of the River Avon where you’ll find a mini golf course and Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm.