Master wordsmith William Shakespeare has secured worldwide fame for the town where he was born and died, 52 years apart, on St George’s Day (23 April). There are five historical properties to view – the Bard’s birthplace, his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage, his final house at New Place adjoining his granddaughter’s Nash House, his daughter’s Hall’s Croft and, slightly out of town, his mother Mary Arden’s farm. You’ll save money with a joint ticket, which gives you entry to all five for the price of three.
Shakespeare still has a presence in Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. While the Royal Shakespeare Theatre undergoes major renovation (due for completion in 2010), the award-winning company performs Shakespeare and more in the Courtyard Theatre across the road. Elizabeth Scott’s magnificent Art Deco Shakespeare Memorial Theatre dates from 1932.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a busy market town, where modernisation hasn’t spoiled the medieval layout of the winding, criss-crossing streets. Amidst the boutiques you’ll find a Teddy Bear Museum to amuse the kids, and Tudor-beamed pubs and restaurants where a pint and a pub lunch await. Enjoy time by – even on – the River Avon, with its grassy banks, gliding swans and picture-postcard views over to Stratford itself. Hire a boat – from row boats and canoes to Venetian gondolas – picnic or take a riverside walk. Further afield are the Cotswolds for fresh air and country walks.