Stratford-upon-Avon

July 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Travel, UK, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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About a year ago I visited Stratford-upon-Avon, most famous for being the birthplace of Shakespeare and home to the Royal Shakespeare Company. So, what can you see and do in Stratford-upon-Avon (not to be confused with Olympic hosting Stratford), well:

Royal Shakespeare Company and RSC tower – you can visit the RSC to take in-person tours, an audio tour and go up the tower to take in the view. The tours and tower were booked out for the day I visited and the audio tour was not working. I’d recommend you download the tour before you come (I tried to do it on my old HTC Desire but was unable to play it). Unfortunately a year later this link (and service?) no longer seems to be available. You can also take in a performance if you have time.
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Bancroft Gardens – These gardens are located by the river and and the RSC and are an excellent way to sit back and watch the world unfold. Very relaxing.
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Holy Trinity Church – A small church near the banks of the river, which is worth a look for its architecture, grounds and as the place where Shakespeare is buried.
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Shakespeare Birthplace – This really should be your first stop as it provides more than just the place Shakespeare was born but also a broad context of his life and the importance of his works. You will probably have to contend with a fair few tourists here though.You can also buy the multi-pass for the other buildings they manage.
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Halls Croft and Nash’s House – the other two trust properties in town offer more historical context and background to the archaeological process. Neither take a particularly long to do and are worth a quick look. The trust runs a couple of other properties but they’re not as accessible, especially on a day trip.
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Farmers Market – Depending on when you visit you may come across the farmers market between the station and all the Shakespeare stuff.
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On the whole Stratford-upon-Avon is interesting and worth a visit. Personally though I’d probably only spend a day (or less here).

Photos at Flickr.

Map at Google.

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Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

January 23, 2008 at 10:34 am | Posted in General, London, Out and About, photos, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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It may be a replica but that doesn’t detract too much from Shakespeare’s Globe at Southwark near the Tate Modern and over the river from Saint Paul’s.

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Unless you’re going to a show you should pay the £9 allowing you access to the museum and the 45mins tour. Otherwise it’s about £4 for each part.

I arrived about 20 minutes before the tour and this was just enough time to do a quick whip around the museum. The museum discusses the history of the Globe (and its reconstruction), theatre in Shakespeare’s day and surprisingly the theories of whether Shakespeare wrote the plays were delved into.

There were also sections on clothing, artisians and music in the theatre but I only glanced through them so you may want to devote a little more time if you’re interested in these topics.

Touch screens as well as a few video screens are also available for more information.

Lastly, on the ground floor before going on the tour you may be able to take a few minutes and watch some stage combat and chat to the actors.

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At the beginning of the tour I was a bit concerned that the guide was only going to reiterate items from the museum but this wasn’t the case. Although my lack of intensive reading could mean this isn’t entirely accurate.

Although there were quite a few of us on the tour the guide projected his voice well and was friendly and engaging. He gave us a brief overview before taking us into the ground floor of the theatre with progressively more information as we moved higher into the Globe.

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Apart from the sprinkler system, concrete floor and fire escapes (oh health and safety you are so irritating) the building is largely the same as the original and was constructed using methods and materials available to Elizabetheans. Quite the task.

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While the theatre predominantly runs Shakespeare’s work they also develop their own original perfomances which they use to explore the theatre’s unique open space and natural lighting.

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For the actor or English major the Globe will be particularly interesting but for everyone else it is only an average exhibit. Despite the history of theatre and the excellent efforts of the staff it is difficult to significantly upsell the fact that at the end of the day it is only a building.

A lack of extensive historical information about the Globe means that there are only limited contemporary anecdotes and these could have brought the theatre even more to life.

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