and a little drama of our own!
29.07.2014 - 29.07.2014 29 °C
Tuesday 29 July 2014
We awoke to a beautiful day in Stratford and decided to head off into town and jump on the hop on hop off bus to tour Shakespeare’s family homes. As luck would have it we misinterpreted what Helpful Helen was telling us and ended up down a lane with a Park and Ride facility. This is where you park your car and then catch a bus into the town centre at minimal cost. The bus dropped us virtually right at the Hop on Hop Off starting point.
The ticket seller advised us that the three better homes to visit were Anne Hathaway’s house (Shakespeare’s wife), Mary Arden’s Farm (Shakespeare’s mother) and Shakespeare’s birth place in Stratford itself. Tickets purchased, we were ready for off.
The first stop on the tour was Holy Trinity Church which we decided to get off at and have a look. The church and surrounding graveyard was very impressive. Inside the church we saw the place where Shakespeare is buried. Shakespeare is noted as saying the he did not want to be buried in a graveyard as when the yards were full, bodies that had been there for 20 years or more were dug up and burnt on a bonfire. As Shakespeare was a Lay Preacher he was able to be buried in the church in front of the alter.
He felt so strongly about his final resting place that there is an inscription bearing a curse above his grave.
"Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To dig the dust enclosed heare.
Blese be thy man thy shares thes stones,
And curst be he thy moves my bones."
Very unusual to have a curse written and displayed within a church. Pete also thinks he was a great story teller but a poor speller. Shakespeare is also the reason Pete failed UE English apparently!
Back on the bus, next stop - Anne Hathaway’s house and gardens. What a lovely picturesque homestead, thatched roof and all. Beautiful gardens. The history in this home is amazing and spans over 13 generations of Hathaway’s. Anne lived here with her parents whilst courting William Shakespeare, she being 6 years his senior. They were married when he was 18 and she was 26. As he was still a minor, permission had to be sought to allow the marriage to proceed. Six months later their first daughter, Susanna was born. A point of interest with the Hathaway property is that they owned 90 acres of land and at the time they would have been considered to have been well off. Over the years however, the family fell on hard times due to the decline in the sheep industry (sound familiar?). The house remained in Hathaway ownership and was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892.
Next stop, Mary Arden’s Farm. Mary Arden was the Shakespeare’s mother and the farm was her family home. The farm and surrounding buildings were very interesting. There were blacksmith displays, cooking demonstrations, falconry shows, and archery practice. All were very good however, Madison found the falconry part a bit sad as the birds are tethered to a stand between shows.
The bus tour was well worth it – just driving around the country side in an open double deck bus seeing all the farms and surrounding area was fantastic.
The commentary was very informative.
• Did you know that the in Shakespearean times, “doctors” dangled a frog down patient's throats to cure sore throats. Today it is known that some frogs excrete fluid that contains antibiotic properties – hence the saying “a frog in your throat”.
• Beds in this era had a wooden frame with rope used as a base for the mattress to sit on. The more the bed was used, the slacker the ropes became. To make the bed more comfortable the ropes were tightened. Hence the saying “sleep tight”.
• In the households of this era the second best bed was for the parents (the best being kept for visitors), the sons slept on the floor with the daughters of the house sleeping on a shelf built across the main room. The daughters slept here until they left the home and married. Those that didn’t marry were considered to “be left on the shelf”.
We boarded the bus to return to town to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace and then cruise down the Avon. Upon arriving back at town Peter said...”Who has the camera?”
“Well it’s not on the bus” said Peter “and it’s not in the back pack”.
Panic ensued. We tried to think of where we had left it last and decided it would have been on the stone wall outside Mary Arden’s farm while we were waiting on the bus. The information centre staff were really helpful and phoned the Arden farm for us....no luck unfortunately, nothing had been handed in.
We decided the best thing to do would be to go back and get our car, head back to our apartment, pick up Madison’s camera and go back to Mary Arden Farm to look for the camera. After that we would see Shakespeare’s birthplace and do the cruise. Finally we thought that we could check in again at the information centre to see if the camera had been handed in.
No luck checking Mary Arden farm ourselves so off to the Avon River cruise. Lovely, just relaxing as the boat ambled along the river and through the lock. Following that we set off for the birthplace of Shakespeare. This too was interesting and informative. We even managed to see the room Shakespeare was born in. Buskers dressed in period costume entertained us outside.
Ready for home we made one last stop at the information centre – what joy...the camera had been found on the tour bus! We were so pleased that we headed to the pub next door for a celebratory drink.
Home for tea and ready for bed. Just before we headed off for bed, Madison's ipad beeped - it was 7NA from Invercargill calling. Madison was thrilled to see and hear from them all - even made her feel a bit homesick. Thanks for calling girls.
Another great day - show casing England and her amazing history.