Little rowing boats moored up on the River Avon, with the Holy Trinity church in the background, in Stratford-upon-Avon

Bards & Boating, Stratford-upon-Avon, England

In Counties, En-Route, Trip-Types, UK Travel, Warwickshire by JanisLeave a Comment

“To go, or not to go": that is the question:

As part of our mini road which included Oxford and visiting the Cotswolds, we arrived at our final destination of Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire.

Along the river Avon, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Stratford-upon-Avon is located on the banks of the River Avon and around 100 miles (160km) north-west of London.

You don’t need to be a huge fan of William Shakespeare to visit here, as it is such a beautiful town in its own right, and full of so much history.

However, if you are a fan, it certainly helps.

A beautiful scene, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Go for a stroll

The best way to explore Stratford-upon-Avon is most certainly on foot, it is incredibly easy to stroll around and a really friendly town.

The Library and Registary Office, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

You’ll need your camera to hand continually, as it is so picturesque. Half-timbered buildings, quaint shops, the River Avon and some beautiful statues.

Take me to the river

Gary and I instantly headed to the river, wherever we are I always seem to be drawn to water. The day visitors were just starting to arrive, and the River Avon was beginning to limber up for the sunny day ahead.

The river Avon, with the Holy Trinity church in the background, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Canal boats, rowing boats, pleasure trips you name it, the choice was yours. There is even a little chain ferry to take you across the river for 50p, which is the first ferry from 1937.

The Chain Ferry, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

On a summer’s day, the river and Bancroft Gardens is a bustling part of the town, lots going on for all the family. You can sit and watch the world go by on a deck chair or take to the skies on the “Big Wheel’.

The ferris wheel, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Gower’s memorial

What you must see in Bancroft Gardens is the Shakespeare Memorial by Lord Ronald Gower. Surrounding William Shakespeare is four eye-catching bronze statues that depict the literary characters of Falstaff, Hamlet, Lady Macbeth & Prince Hal.

The Flastaff statue, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
The statue to Hamlet, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
The statue to Lady Macbeth, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
Statue to Prince Hal, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

I was particularly drawn to Falstaff, he had a twinkle in his eye.

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Tempted to?

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The man himself

William Shakespeare, the famous playwright, was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, and evidence of his life here weaves its way through so many of the ancient streets and lanes.

Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Shakespeare birthplace and his childhood home is a fantastically restored 16th-century half-timbered building along Henley Street. Now a grade I listed property and a museum dedicated to Shakespeare; however, it was in this house that he grew up in with his siblings and also where he shared the first five years of his married life to Anne Hathaway.

Guildhall, Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Almshouses, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Shakespeare is believed to have been educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in town, which is along Church Street from the ages of seven to fourteen years. There are records that the school was established as early as the 13th-century. Adjacent to the school and the Guildhall is the Guild Chapel.

The sign outside Guildhall & Shakespeare's Schoolroom, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Family years

Shakespeare and his family owned a few properties around the town, New Place, where Shakespeare lived later in his life and died in 1616, is now an attractive garden. A later owner of the property had it demolished in 1759.

Nash's House, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Standing next to where New Place was, is Nash’s House, built around 1600 and home of Thomas Nash who was the first husband of William’s granddaughter Elizabeth.
Both Nash’s House and the site of New Place were acquired in 1876 by Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust.

Hall's Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Another building in town associated with Shakespeare is Hall’s Croft, which was owned by William’s daughter and her husband Dr John Hall, a physician. Located along Old Town, this is another wonderfully kept example of Jacobean House, it was built in 1613.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Anne Hathaway's Cottage is slightly out of town in a village called Shottery. Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare’s wife, and she lived in the cottage from birth in 1556 until they married in 1582. The cottage is lovely and is over 500 years old, the planting is incredible and so in keeping.

Joint Ticket

If you wish to visit more than one of the sites owned by Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust (there are five), you should check their website. As not only is it cheaper to buy a ‘Full Story’ ticket it is also discounted online.

Holy Trinity Church

Shakespeare’s life ended where it started really, in Holy Trinity Church. William was baptised on 26th April 1564 and is buried in the same church after his death on 23rd April 1616 aged 52, next to his wife.

The grave of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
Monument to Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

When you have a wander around you’ll see a funerary monument dedicated to William Shakespeare.

Theatre Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company as you would expect is based in Stratford-upon-Avon. It has regular performances in London and often tours the UK, so if you’re unable to pick up a production here, then keep a lookout locally.  

The RSC has three theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon, the main one is the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and sits pride of place along the River Avon. This theatre was opened on Shakespeare’s birthday 23rd April 1932, in 2007 it was closed for a multimillion pound refurbishment & reopened in 2010.

The Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Nestled at the end of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is the Swan Theatre, occupying what was once the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and also continually holds performances.

The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Just a short stroll from here is The Other Place, as 200-seat studio theatre, this also had a recent refurbishment and opened on 21st March 2016, in time for the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.

The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Good to know

On the day – Head into the RSC for performances on that evening, we got a 60% discount. Although, it may have helped that England was playing in the World Cup that evening.

Wherefore art thou?

For once, forgetting to pre-plan worked out, our luck was in, not only did we pay a ‘Standby’ price of £25 for a stalls ticket of £62.50, the performance was of Romeo & Juliet.

It was a modern take on one of William Shakespeare’s most famous productions, and it was absolutely fantastic.

The cast was incredible, full of energy and transported you into their world. The cast member Charlotte Josephine played an amazing role as Mercutio.

Romeo and Juliet programme, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Sheep Street

One of Stratford-upon-Avon’s most historic streets is Sheep Street, many of the buildings along here are from 15th & 16th-century.
Sheep Street, aptly named as this was where sheep were brought from the nearby Cotswolds for trading. We’ve come across a few Sheep Streets on this road trip.

The Golden Bee, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Shrieve’s House is one of the oldest still lived in houses in the town, during the 16th century it was an Inn and which was run by William Rogers. It is believed he was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s character Falstaff.

Shrieve's House, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Quirky Statues

Just up from Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street is a jolly Jester from Shakespeare's play “As you like it”.

The Jester, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
The Interesting Lamp post, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Keep an eye out for the lamp post along ‘Waterside’, the little sculptors sitting on top are of “Bottom” the Ass from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and “Topol” from “Fiddler on the Roof”.

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How to get there

You can catch a train from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon via Royal Leamington Spa, which takes around 2 hours.

Go with the flow

If you fancy a bit more of a sedate way to tour the local countryside, there’s always a canal boat. We’ve made a few canal boat trips, and they are great fun for young and old.

The waterway and locks that lead into the canal basin at the River Avon are the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.

A canal boat navigating the locks, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
The Canal Locks, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

The canal was built between 1793 and 1816, it starts at Birmingham 25.5 miles (41.0 km) north of Stratford-upon-Avon and winds through the countryside. Surely there’s no better way to arrive in town than mooring up for the evening and enjoying a waterside pub.

Moored canal boats, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Have You

Visited Stratford-upon-Avon, did you get a chance to hire a boat, we’d love to know if you enjoyed the town too?

Mixing with the locals

We’d read that the Garrick Inn was reputedly to be the oldest pub in town, so for research purposes, of course, we had to check it out.

It’s full of wooden beams, nooks and crannies and a great little snug bar at the front.
It’s been an inn since 1718 in its current Elizabethan style, however, the building dates back a couple of centuries further and is known to have been an Inn during the medieval period.

The sign outide the Garrick Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
The Garrick Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

We got chatting to some fascinating, friendly locals, who despite knowing we were just passing through, welcomed us into their local haunt with open arms. One of them gave us a great restaurant recommendation.

Would you like a little more?

We have created a little YouTube video of Stratford-upon-Avon

Why not subscribe to our channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Where we ate

Well, this follows on nicely from above, as we headed down Sheep Street and called into the Vintner Restaurant. Another incredible building, constructed in 1490 & restored in 1910, it is still privately owned after 500 years.

The Vintner Restaurant, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK

Our meal here was lovely, the ingredients are locally sourced and a mixture of different cooking styles.

Chicken in Lime with a Mango & Curry Sauce - Vintners Rastaurant, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK
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Inspired to visit Stratford-upon-Avon?

Why not make a couple of days of it and stay and watch a performance at the RSC?

Why not checkout the latest deals on Booking.Com?
Bards & Boating, Stratford-upon-Avon, England

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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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  1. I visited Stratford-upon-Avon years ago and had forgotten how gorgeous it was – we will have to go there again next time we are back in the UK. A fabulous post with great photos. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks very much, we really enjoyed it. It is a beautiful town, so much history & it was made all the better that we got to see the performance of Romeo & Juliet.

  2. Oh yes! The answer is most definitely to go! I’ve visited Stratford-upon-Avon as a young teen, but would love to go back and explore more, see some of these Tudor, time-framed villages!! Pinned! #FarawayFiles

    1. It was some years ago that I had previously visited, so, it was really great rediscovering it again. It’s a lovely size town and a relaxed atmosphere along the riverside.

  3. What a wonderful look at Stratford upon Avon. Those half timbered houses and thatched roofs are so beautiful and I can never resist a town with canals and longboats. Shakespeare had a charmed life!

    1. It was a real pleasure strolling around, I had forgotten how lovely it was. I’m so pleased we took the chance of grabbing a RSC performance, it was fantastic & a modern twist on Romeo & Juliet.

  4. I have been wanting to visit Stratford upon Avon, and your post has pointed to what I should keep an eye out for. Looks like a great place to visit, and I am a fan of Shakespeare. Can’t believe I haven’t made it there yet! Thanks for all the great background and photos. Pinning for later. Cheers! #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks Beth, we really loved it & the sunshine made it all the better. The quirky little statues all around the town add a bit of fun.You must try and catch an RSC performance while you’re there it was fantastic. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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