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William Shakespeare is known as the greatest writer in English history and the mark he made on literature is great. If you love Shakespeare (like I do), you should make it a point to do a Shakespeare tour of important sites in London and Stratford upon Avon.
Even if you aren’t a fervent fan of the works of William Shakespeare, you will certainly appreciate being able to immerse yourself in the time in which he lived by touring Shakespeare’s family homes, seeing his works and visiting the different places where England has memorialized him.
What to See on a Shakespeare Tour of London
If you are staying in London or planning to spend most of your time in London, there are a few different places you can visit to feel like you are in the presence of the bard.
London is a very influential city for Shakespeare and on a Shakespeare tour of London you will get to see places that were important during his time as a writer.
The Globe Theater
One of the most toured Shakespeare sites in England is the Globe theater.
While the original Globe Theater burnt to the ground during the time of Shakespeare, this recreated version is true to the original.
It is still a working theater and you can see a performance many days & nights of the year (and even stand in front of the stage just like the Groundlings).
You will also find a guided tour of the Globe theater and museum on site that is pretty fantastic.
Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert museum is FREE and houses some pretty amazing things. Among the things you can see is a published collection of Shakespeare’s plays known as the ‘First Folio’.
They also hold other editions of his works.
National Archives in Kew
Shakespeare’s Will is one of the few surviving documents from Shakespeare that actually contain his signature. You will need to register for a reader’s ticket in advance to be able to view it.
Of course, during your time in London, you will want to visit Westminster Abbey. While you are there, you will notice that there is a special memorial statue in the famous Poets’ Corner for Shakespeare.
Shakespeare Statue in Leicester Square Gardens.
The marble statue of William Shakespeare (copied from Scheemakers’ 18th-century monument to Shakespeare in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey) can be found in Leicester Square Gardens.
The scroll held by Shakespeare reads, ” THERE IS NO DARKNESS BUT IGNORANCE,” which is a quote from Twelfth Night.
What to See on a Shakespeare Tour of Stratford upon Avon
Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon and is a perfect day trip from London. During your time in Stratford, you will be able to visit his birth house, see the home of wife (Anne Hathaway) and see his grave.
Shakespeare’s Straford upon Avon Birthplace
Born in 1564, Shakespeare grew up in a Tudor-style cottage in Stratford Upon Avon. For a fee, you can tour the home which is made to look as it would have in his lifetime.
Henley Street Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6QW, England
Anne Hathaway House
Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare. Her home in Stratford Upon Avon is similar in Tudor styling to Shakespeare’s and also has a lovely garden and walking paths that you can enjoy.
Shottery Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9HH England
Shakespeare’s New Place
New Place was Shakespeare’s family home from 1597-1616. When Shakespeare bought New Place, he was an established playwright and it is believed that he wrote many of his later plays there.
The original home was demolished in 1759 and all what remains is a garden. The outline of where the house stood remains, along with garden to commemorate the importance of the site.
Stratford-upon-Avon Warwickshire CV37 6EP
Mary Arden’s Farm
Shakespeare’s mother’s farm is just outside of Stratford upon Avon in Wilmcote. Here you will find a working Tudor farm which now serves as the Shakespeare Countryside Museum.
The museum has many hands-on activities that families with children will enjoy like goose-herding and falconry.
Shakespeare’s Grave at Holy Trinity Church
No Shakespeare tour is complete without seeing the site in which Shakespeare was baptized, and later buried. The site of the famous Bard’s final resting place is in the Holy Trinity Church.
This church has a history all its own.The 800 year-old church’s stained glass windows and misericords date from the 1400s.
Along with Shakespeare, you will find the resting place of his wife Anne and children. Pay attention to the witty inscription on his tomb:
“Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, to digg the dust enclosed heare. Blese be the man that spares thes stones, and curst be he that moves my bones.”
Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BG, England
£3 to enter the church
Getting to Stratford upon Avon from London
By car: For a day trip to Stratford from London you will want to take the M40. It is approximately 2 hours. You won’t need a full day in Stratford, so you may want to pair it with another nearby city, like Oxford.
By train:Head to the Marylebone Station in London. The ride is anywhere beteween 2 and 2 1/2 hours to reach Stratford-upon-Avon depending on what time you decide to go. Check the train times for the day you intend to travel.
Save Money with Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass. This pass will give you entry to many of the sites in Stratford upon Avon along with some other famous places from Shakespeare’s time in England.
If you are a fan of Shakespeare and visiting the London area, make sure that you visit at least some of these places that are significant to his life & works.
Have you done a Shakespeare tour while in England? What was your favorite place to visit?