The gang goes on a walking tour and visits Southwark Cathedral where Shakespeare’s brother Edmund is buried. So is medieval poet John Gower!
Most of us (I won’t name names) made it to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral to see fantastic views of the city. The inside was amazing and we were lucky enough to get a thorough walking tour throughout. (No pictures allowed inside, so you’ll have to go see for yourself.)
On our last day in Stratford we made the pilgrimage to visit Shakespeare’s final resting place in Holy Trinity Church. The bust was made shortly after his death, and we were told Anne his widow approved of its likeness. For such a world figure now, the church was humble, serene, and comforting. It was a nice contrast to the commercial feel outside in the streets of Stratford.
We filled our bellies with Shakespeare and all things touristy for our three days in the town of Shakespeare’s birth and final resting place. We managed to see two productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, visit Shakespeare’s home where his father made gloves, see his grammar school where he learned “small Latin and less Greek” (though by our standards, there was nothing small about it), and enjoy the many, many gift shops.
The Sweet Swans of the river Avon. (Though not so sweet; I saw them attack children for food.)
Shakespeare’s school house
A visit inside the Shakespeare house. Sean and Taylor admire the furniture.
Gloves! High fashion back in the day.
After tight quarters with low ceilings and tons of visitors, the gardens were a beautiful spot to relax and breathe.
We had the opportunity to visit the British Library’s excellent exhibit, “Shakespeare in Ten Acts.” While walking through we got to see Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623), the first printed edition of Hamlet (1604), two examples of Shakespeare’s autograph, modern costumes, modern adaptations, and tons more. Perhaps the most exciting, however, was the gift shop. As one of our group said, “Way better stuff here than at the Globe.” Complete with Shakespeare rubber duckies, crystal skulls full of booze, and daggers standing there before you.
The King’s Library stands in the Center of the building
Megan and Emily find wonder in a crystal palace of shoes
We then bounced to that other British institution, but taking our time getting there while meandering through Covent Garden. Aside from a few macaroons, no one took the shopping plunge.
In front of the British Museum
Coins and signets from kings Shakespeare dramatized, including Henry VI and Richard III
After a hardcore classroom session, the gang proceeds to find relief at the Shakespeare’s Head pub. But what’s in a name? Not much, we learned. We quickly moved along.
That night, however, we were rewarded with a full moon over the Tower of London. It looked so peaceful – hard to remember so many heads fell from shoulders within those walls.
We visited the Tower of London to pay homage to where the Tudor’s dispatched their enemies and how treason was defined. We saw torture machines, the armory, and where two of Henry VIII’s wives were executed and buried.
We were treated to afternoon tea with Anna from CAPA before our tour of Westminster Abbey. Inside we explored the tombs of so many English notables, and spent a good amount of time in Poet’s Corner. Dominating was the statue of Shakespeare, even though he’s buried in Stratford-upon-Avon. Poor Chaucer only had a little box.
Look at those healthy servings!
The team appears to be adapting to their new environment.
We’re all making our way over. I am waiting to get on a long, dark flight across the ocean. New money!
In preparation for travel, you may want to enjoy the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘About Shakespeare’ page. It’s full of helpful, usable information, all with gorgeous photos.
The resource will help everyone get ready to enjoy live performances and visits to prominent sites. Do check it out!