Culture, East of England, Festival, Guided tour, Market, Museum, News, Places, Theatre, Themes, Tudor, Walking route

The market town of Stratford in Warwickishire, home of the world’s most-loved playwright and poet

Visitors assembles for an accessible tour of Stratford
© Stratford Town Walk

Stratford in Warwickshire is a market town with more than 800 years of history. Many of the buildings we see today would have been familiar to Shakespeare, the world’s most loved bard. The town is also a thriving community offering a wide variety of leisure, places to stay and shopping.

A prety shopping street in Stratford with seats outside cafes and large hanging baskets of flowers.

Shopping in Stratford ©

Visitors to Stratford can make the most of their visit with a guided tour. The accessible Town Walk lasts for about 2 hours. “It’s like walking through the pages of a history book!” The tour passes the Shakespeare Town Houses, Theatres, River Avon, C15th timber-framed buildings, Guild Chapel, and Shakespeare’s School. Walks are suitable for groups and families.

Stratford River Festival showing small boats on river Avon and RSC in background

Stratford River Festival 1 by Ann Rob ©

Stratford where Shakespeare grew up

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom opened to the public in April 2016 thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1.6M. It allows visitors to step into the shoes of the C16th school boy. The world’s greatest playwright, he had his lessons and saw his first theatre in this school.

Historian Michael Wood said it is ‘one of the most magical and important buildings in the whole of Britain’.

The 1420’s Schoolroom is still part of the thriving King Edward VI School which Shakespeare went to in the 1570s. Since re-opening, students from the School still use the it for part of the day.

A lift provides full access to the building. With level access throughout at ground and first floor levels, except to the first-floor landing to the Victorian staircase. There is also an induction loop in the ground-floor reception, the counting house and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom. Access to the first floor for ambulant-disabled people is via the staircase or lift with aid from staff.

Visitors may also explore the building’s role as a provincial Guildhall, where it sat at the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon’s civic life for over 400 years.

Stratford-upon-Avon showing the Town Hall and timbered buildings

Stratford-upon-Avon ©

Food and Drink Expo

The local Business Festival 2017 includes Warwickshire Food and Drink. The expo on 22 Nov will be held at Warwickshire Golf and Country Club. It will showcase around 200 local businesses with high street retail buyers and hotel chains. The event will also feature visitor attractions and independent stockists. Visitors will enjoy local caterers, from breweries, to cheesemakers, chocolatiers and patissiers.

Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “We have a thriving food and drink industry in Warwickshire.  Businesses don’t have to travel far for world class ingredients and suppliers; they are right here in the county.

Helen Peters, of Shakespeare’s England said: “We are delighted to partner with Warwickshire County Council to host the expo. Our region boasts an exceptional range of local food and drink suppliers. This event is ideal for suppliers to show off their products and produce. It’s also a great opportunity for buyers to get a real taste of the best of Warwickshire.” For details about the event please visit here.

Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass

The Explorer Pass by Shakespeare’s England enables visitors to purchase a 1, 2, or 3 day pass to visit up to 19 different attractions and offers exceptional value for money. Visitors simply purchase their pass in advance of their trip and then show it at the admission desk or payment point at each attraction to gain entry. The Explorer Pass has been part funded by a Grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

The participating attractions include Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place, Hall’s Croft, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden’s Farm, Royal Shakespeare Company The Play’s The Thing exhibition, Warwick Castle, Ragley Hall, Compton Verney, Avon Boating, Kenilworth Castle, St Mary’s Church, Lord Leycester Hospital, Stoneleigh Abbey, Hill Close Gardens, British Motor Museum, The MAD Museum, Magic Alley and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall. The Explorer Pass also includes some fantastic discounts at shops, hotels, and restaurants.

Full details of participating attractions and businesses can be found in the Explorer Guide which comes with the pass. Information is also on the Explorer Pass website  or Shakespeare’s England  .

The cost for an adult is £49 for the 1 day pass, £65 for the 2 day pass and £75 for the 3 day pass. Child passes are also available to purchase. The pass will be available to buy through the VisitBritain Shop and Visitor Information Centres in Stratford-upon-Avon. It is also available via a wide range of outlets, both on and offline.

Christmas Shopping at Hatton World

Hatton Shopping Village, is a real English shopping village. It hosts its popular Christmas markets every weekend from 25 November – 17 December. And then, every day from 18 – 22 December. For those after a unique and special Christmas gift, there will be a diverse range of stalls from local gift suppliers. At the weekends visitors can also enjoy festive singing, mulled punch, mince pies and a great festive feel.

Christmas markets at Hatton.jpg ©

Christmas markets at Hatton ©

There’s a Christmas Craft Fayre from 10 – 12 November. As well as browsing hand-made gifts, visitors can chat with the crafts-people who made them. They make unique and bespoke gifts such as artwork, ceramics, jewellery, woodcraft. Free mulled punch, mince pies and the chance to meet Santa is also on offer.

At a Christmas Food Fayre from 18 – 19 November visitors can try before they buy. Stalls have a wide range of food and drink to taste for free.  As well as sampling treats it’s also the perfect chance to buy food for Christmas.

There’s late night shopping on 8 December when shoppers can enjoy special discounts in some shops from 5pm, Father Christmas, and carol singing. The Shops and Market stay open until 8.30pm.  Carron Smith, Marketing Manager said  ‘It sounds like an ideal way to do Christmas shopping and just how shopping should be!’ The Hatton Estate offers a range of restaurants and cafes to suit all tastes. Hatton Shopping Village has free entry with masses of free parking. 

Winter Walks

For those that love the great outdoors in winter, there are three walking routes across the Hatton Estate. They link up Hatton Country World and Hatton Locks. The walk features 21 locks and is known as the Stairway to Heaven to The Hatton Arms Pub & Restaurant. The walks take in towpaths and footpaths and range from 1.5 to 5.5 miles through fields with views over Warwick. Download details here.

Stratford and its vicinity are buzzing with visitor attractions all year round. Look here for more ideas of things to do, places to stay and restaurants in the area.

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