‘To be or not to be, will the train make it into Stratford Upon Avon, that is the question.’
I uttered out loudly as the early morning train slowly limped towards the station of my destination and ending at its terminus with a big sigh, only to shudder to a stop.
I had arrived.
The morning was a glorious gray, overhanging ominous clouds that slowly poured forth a drizzle, refreshing my face from the dark wake up call only a few hours ago.
Coming from London Marylebone, I was only up in Stratford Upon Avon, deep in the heart of Warwickshire in the UK and straddling the banks of the River Avon, for the day for a charity open day with DELTA. However, as the event wasn’t going to take place for a few hours, I had time to explore the town and pay homage to Mr William Shakespeare himself.
Stepping out of the entrance to the station, I was reminded by my wintry visit to this town only four years ago, its memories flooded me as I remembered slipping on the ice and delving into the home of the celebrated poet and playwright. It was also near the setting of my cousin’s wedding as well, the rural landscape adding to the gothic ceremony and jubilant celebrations afterwards.
As 9 o’clock ticked over, I was on hotfoot to visit Shakespeare’s grave. He died on 23rd April 1616 at the age of 52 and was laid to rest in the Church of the Holy Trinity, and that is where my next stop would be.
I realised as I meandered to the church that I hadn’t even visited the Old Town in my last visit and seeing the old thatched cottages soon transported me to the turbulent Tudor and Stuart times, only to be stunned at the wonderful view of the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church.
The walkway to the Church was a pleasant stroll, the trees stripped bare of its leaves pointing me to the entrance where a warm greeting took place after I lifted up the heavy door catch and pushing the heavy timbered doors. The spirituality of the church was profound. It felt safe, a place of reflection and a sanctuary from all the busy world outside.
I walked up to the aisle to the altar, and after making a donation to the church to visit Shakespeare, I stood before the infamous grave.
I was surprised how simple the grave was. Its only noticeboard signifying where Shakespeare rested. He laid next to his wife, his son-in-law and his daughter. If you look to your left, you’d see a bust of William looking down at you, his eyes celebrating how his legacy has changed the world. Even I felt indebted to him for giving me the tools to write on this blog.
After paying my respects, it was time to explore the rest of the town. I was keen to understand why Stratford was listed as one of the most accessible travel destinations in the world according to Burning Nights:
As I wandered along the River Avon, I could see it was true. All of the places I went, there were wheelchair accessibility and not only that, I spied a lot of deaf awareness and support too.
Of course, if I visited Shakespeare’s grave then I must visit his birthplace too!
As you see in the photo, I was completely wrapped up on this very chilly November morning and after wandering the town for two hours, it was time to get some much-needed nosh: The traditional English breakfast!
I headed on over to ‘The Encore’ pub and restaurant on the corner of the main street that invited me in with its warm roasting hearth fires that soon pinked up my skin. Its menu, delicious with goodies, saw me order an extra sausage and black pudding to go with the ravenous breakfast. By golly, it was good and I didn’t care how tight my jeans felt against my stomach!
But it was time to visit the open day at Stratford Upon Avon YHA Youth Hostel, that saw me remember again the two nights I stayed there four years ago.
It was interesting to have a look around at the changes made since then. A renovation to bring an exclusive restaurant/cafe and improve the social rooms that invited you to play games with fellow travellers or to curl up on their plush sofas with a book.
But I was here for a charitable event and thus ended my exploration of Stratford Upon Avon on this fleeting day in this old English town famed for William Shakespeare.
Thanks for the memories!