To see or not to see: follow Shakespeare around England

He may have died 400 years ago but Shakespeare's legacy lives on around England


The great William Shakespeare aka The Bard of Avon, will be commemorated across England this year to mark 400 years since his death in 1616. During his short 52 years on earth he penned stories that are still loved today. Here we round-up some of the best ways to celebrate Shakespeare's life and works, and where to discover the untold stories of England's Bard.

Shakespeare's birthplace

Shakespeare was the son of a wealthy tanner and glove maker. Their family home in the picturesque and vibrant town of Stratford upon Avon, was the largest in Henly street. The half-timbered property survives as a museum. The story goes that American Fairground Mogul PT Barnum attempted to buy it in 1847, planning to ship it to the USA. A consortium involving Charles Dickens bought it for £3,000 so it could remain in England. Today the parlour, hall, and bedrooms are furnished as they may have looked in 1574 and the garden features many of the plants that are mentioned in his plays. Sometimes there are on-demand performances by wandering costumed actors.

Shakespeare's schoolroom

King Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon is to open Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall to the public for the first time in April. Built between 1418 and 1420, this is where he was educated, and where he first witnessed professional theatre. It served as the centre of civic life in Stratford for over 400 years and is still used to teach students.

Affairs of the heart

Young Bill courted Anne Hathaway at her family home in the hamelt of Shottery - a substantial thatched farmhouse that is now open to the public. Inside there are several original items of family furniture, including the finely carved Hathaway Bed. It is surrounded by 9-acres of beautiful grounds and gardens and perhaps as you stroll you can imagine the young couple falling in love.

Shakespeare's secret gardens

The Lace Market Theatre will be hosting a Shakespeare Season, which includes Shakespeare performances in two of Nottingham's secret gardens. On April 21, Twelfth Night will be performed in the secret garden at Bromley House Library, and a performance of Julius Caesar will be performed in the secret garden of historic Newdigate House. You will get to take tea in the al fresco in the gardens. The Lace Market Theatre will also be putting on a week-long production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (April 28-23).

Day in the bard's life

Situated in the underbelly of the Globe Theatre, a year-round exhibition and tour takes guests on an a journey through the life of Shakespeare, exploring the London in which he lived, and the 1599 Globe Theatre where his plays came to life. Entertainment includes a sword-fighting display, handmade period costumes and the working theatre of today.

Rub shoulders with royalty

Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor, which was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I for a celebration at Windsor Castle. The play was performed to coincide with the Queen's Cousin, Lord Hunsdon, being made Knight of the Garter in 1597. When first performed, the play wasn't open to the public, and rather was shown privately at the Castle in Vicar's Hall, of which the main window can be seen from the town centre opposite the Royal Theatre. You can see where the play was written, although there are two places in Windsor which claim to be the birthplace of the play: The Old Kings Head in Church Street, and the Harte and Garter Hotel (where the two inns, the White Hart and The Garter once stood).

Shakespeare under the sky

As part of the Globe Theatre on Tour, the Shakespeare under the Sky summer performance season will include an Oxford Shakespeare Festival of plays at Oxford Castle, the Oxford Shakespeare Company in Wadham Gardens and English Repertory Theatre in University Parks. There will also be performances by Creation Theatre Company.

Shakespeare Festival

Held in the ancient city of St Albans, the Shakespeare Festival runs till the end of June. It features all 37 if the Bard's. Encompassing theatre, choral singing, symphonic music, poetry, stand-up comedy and dance there is plenty to see. Highlights include an interpretation of Hamlet, Hold off the Earth, and a visit to St Albans from Merely Theatre, as part of their nationwide tour.

Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon

The 16th century Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel, is home to the famous Cedar tree rumoured to have been the setting for the very first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The hotel is surrounded by Shakespearean heritage, and their signature cocktail 'The Poets Tipple', pays homage to the playwright's sonnet: "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day".


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