We are here in Stratford upon Avon pet sitting wonderful Enzo.He is a well behaved and sweet border terrier who is a joy to be with. The first day after his family left for their vacation we stayed at home letting Enzo get used to us and keeping him busy with walks and play. It is difficult for pets when they miss their humans but we try to make the transition as pleasant and reassuring as possible. Enzo did quite well which makes all of us happy.
Since we are in Stratford the town where Shakespeare was born, married, and died, we are submerging ourselves in all things Shakespeare. We visited his birthplace. “Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a restored 16th-century half-timbered house situated in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, where it is believed that William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and spent his childhood years” (Wikipedia)This is one of the fireplaces where food was cooked and that kept the small room heated in the winter.We visited Anne Hathaway’s family cottage in Shottery , a village about a mile away. Anne was born in this cottage in 1555 or 1556 and grew up the oldest of 10 children on a large farm. Her father died one year before Anne and Shakespeare married.
Anne married Shakespeare when he was 18 years old and she was 26. Their daughter, Susanna, was born 6 months later. Let’s say the wedding was a hurried affair. Eighteen months after Susanna was born, the Shakespeares had twins Hamnet and Judith. They all lived in Shakespeare’s parents’ home in Stratford. Shakespeare went off to London to write his plays and became a very wealthy man. He returned on and off to Stratford to visit his family. In 1597, Shakespeare purchased New Place (the second largest home in Stratford) and Anne and the children moved in. This house was where he died in 1616. Unfortunately, New Place was demolished in the 1750s.
Here is Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare and his family are all buried right before the altar. This was not given to him as an honor, but purchased by him in 1605 for 440 pounds. This purchased a permanent resting place for himself and his family.This purchase was the gift that kept on giving. Now tourists pay 3 pounds each to see his memorial and grave in the church. This has apparently been going on for some time, because the church is beautifully maintained. A lot of historical places had a bad time in the nineteenth century, and fell into disrepair, usually due to roof failure. Not at Trinity. By the way, it has a couple dozen amazing stained glass windows.
The place we are staying is a three-minute walk from the church and New Place, and eight minutes from the birthplace on Henley Street. It’s a one-mile saunter on a pretty path, perhaps one trod by Will himself, to Anne’s childhood home.
Needless to say, I have learned a lot more about Shakespeare’s life and family than I knew before we arrived. Being here and seeing the physical places where he lived makes him a real person in my mind and not just a brilliant playwright.