Stratford-Upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon, England (visited in 2014)- Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Welcome to my favorite place on earth: Stratford-upon-Avon! This is where William Shakespeare, often nicknamed “The Bard”, was born and lived for most of his life and, finally, is buried. It is the most beautiful and friendly town I have ever laid eyes upon. Every street corner is lined with charming cottages and overflowing bookstores and the breeze from the Avon River makes the weather nearly perfect year round. Quaint little tea shops are dotted across the streets and alluring gardens filled with roses, lilies, and tulips greet you at every corner.

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(The front-view of Shakespeare’s birthplace)

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(The back-view of Shakespeare’s birthplace and garden)

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(The back of the house and the garden pathway)

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(The famous theatre)

Inside Shakespeare’s childhood home you can see the room and the exact bed where William Shakespeare was born and almost every piece of the house is original, with the occasional refurbishing. My favorite part of the house is an elevated nook that holds the desk in which Shakespeare did much of his writing.

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(The desk in which Shakespeare spent most of his time writing)

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(Shakespeare’s parents’ bed and his crib as a baby)

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(The original wallpaper in one of the rooms in Shakespeare’s house)

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(A statue of Hamlet in one of the memorial sites for the works of Shakespeare)

In addition to the homes of Shakespeare and his wife, Anne Hathaway, there are also many other attractions and sites to see in this little town. One of the most famous is the RSC Theatre (Royal Shakespeare Company). Many famous British actors and actresses began their acting careers at the RSC, including David Tennant who plays the 10th Doctor in Doctor Who. You can also take a short walk to the church named Holy Trinity, in which William Shakespeare was baptized and buried. Although there are no official records of his exact birthday, it is commonly speculated that Shakespeare was born on April 23rd in 1564 and died on the same day in 1616. At the church, you can see the original paper records of Shakespeare’s baptism and death.

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(One of the church’s stained glass windows)

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(The words placed at the head of Shakespeare’s grave in which he warned that whoever disturbs his bones would be cursed)

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(The original records of Shakespeare’s baptism and death)

Things to Do/See:

  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace and childhood home
  • His wife, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
  • Holy Trinity Church (Where Shakespeare was baptized and his burial place)
  • Hall’s Croft (home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna Hall and her husband)
  • Stratford Butterfly Farm
  • Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre

Other places/sites in Stratford:

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(The inside of a tea shop/cafe)

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Fun Facts:

  1. Shakespeare is most likely to have received a classical Latin education at King’s New School in Stratford, due to his social class.
  2. His wife, Anne, who was 26 years old, was three months pregnant when they married and William was only 18 years old.
  3. Shakespeare was not only a writer but also an actor.He was an actor, writer and co-owner of a drama company called the ‘Lord Chamberlain’s Men’, which was later called the King’s Men.
  4. Shakespeare lived through an outbreak of the bubonic plague in London (1524-94) and 1609. The plague also came to Stratford when Shakespeare was just 3 months old.
  5. Shakespeare’s plays are usually divided into three categories: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.
  6. Shakespeare has given many words, approximately 1,700 – 3,000, to the English language.
  7. Macbeth was unpopular during the time of its release because it struck fear among the people for its references of witches and many people still believe that the title “Macbeth” is cursed and should not be spoken.

* checked by: http://www.biographyonline.net/poets/facts-shakespeare.html *

Literary Recommendations:

It is not hard to guess the literature recommendations that I have for Stratford-upon-Avon. Of course, the answer is the works of William Shakespeare himself. If you have not read Shakespeare before, I highly recommend that you do so. In case you did not know, Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer in the English language. His writings can appeal to anyone depending on your interests. If you are a romantic, I recommend reading some of his sonnets or Romeo and Juliet. If you like mystery and tragedy, I suggest that you try out Hamlet or Macbeth, which are my two personal favorites. There are also comedies such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night. His writings also created, or at least popularized, many of the sayings that we still use today like “Dead as a doornail” (Henry VI), “Heart of gold” (Henry V), and “Kill with kindness” (The Taming of the Shrew).

I hope you all enjoyed seeing some of the beauty of my favorite place in the world! I also hope that I have inspired you to start planning a trip to visit this breathtakingly beautiful town or pick up a book of Shakespeare and dive into some of the most wonderful works of literature. Thanks for reading!

-Gabrielle

**All pictures were taken by me**

The Mysteries of Stonehenge

Stonehenge, Great Britain (visited in 2014)

In 2014 I had the privilege of being invited to attend a leadership study abroad trip to Oxford, England (more about that in a later post). While in Great Britain, I was able to visit the site of one of the world’s greatest historical mysteries: Stonehenge in Salisbury, England. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and striking places I have ever been to. The mystery behind this monument looms over the stones like a sleepy silence and it makes you realize that the world is bigger than just you; it is a place full of mystery, wonder, and adventure and Stonehenge embodies all of it.

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In case you are not very familiar with Stonehenge, here are a few facts that I learned during my visit: *

  1. Stonehenge is a massive structure of “standing stones”, which can be found across many parts of Europe.
  2. Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world.
  3. No one really knows the true purpose of the standing stones. There are many theories or conspiracies that guess at the site’s origins and purpose, but the truth is still a mystery to both archaeologists and the general public.
  4. It predates the Vikings, Romans, and the Celts and was built in the transition time between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age (around 4,500 years ago).
  5. Some of the theories of its origin include: a memorial for the Britons who were killed by invading Saxons, Merlin (the wizard) conjured the stones from a site in Ireland called the Giant’s Ring, and it was the site of a Druid temple.
  6. The main axis of the stones is aligned upon the solstitial axis, so midsummer (to frame the rising sun) and midwinter (to frame the setting sun) solstices were important to the builders.
  7. Some of the biggest stones in the structure weigh, on average, 25 tons and stand up to 30 ft/9 meters tall!
  8. The remains of the monument include two main stone types: bluestone and sarsen sandstone. The smaller Stonehenge stones, the bluestones, carry the most mystery because they are foreign to southern England so their origin is unknown.
  9. This sacred area undergoes nearly constant change: the stones were erected in different phases.
  10. Charles Darwin researched earthworms at Stonehenge.

*facts checked by: http://www.livescience.com/22427-stonehenge-facts.html, http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/history/description/#, and http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-should-know-about-stonehenge*

Fun Fact: Stonehenge celebrates its 30th anniversary as a World Heritage site in 2016.

Literature Recommendations: Due to the mystery surrounding standing stones, Stonehenge and other similar structures frequently appear in fictional literature as well as nonfiction. Some of the most popular or famous fictional stories surrounding Stonehenge are found in Arthurian legends: stories of King Arthur. (see: Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Histories of the Kings of Brition”).

Other popular fictional works surrounding standing stones included Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series which is centered around a woman named Claire who is transported back in time due to standing stones in Scotland.

Nonfiction- There is also a multitude on nonfictional works that surround Stonehenge and can be easily found on the internet or at your local library.

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I hope you all found this information interesting and, hopefully, it inspired you to do some further research on your own. Thanks for reading!

-Gabrielle

** All pictures were taken by me!**

#stonehenge #england #greatbritain

About Me!

Hello friends! My name is Gabrielle Townsend and I am currently a sophomore English and History major at Morehead State University in Kentucky. I am an avid lover of books, photography, coffee, and TRAVELING! I have been traveling ever since I was a little girl and I have had the privilege of being able to travel to 6 countries outside of the United States within my 19 years of existence. When I am not traveling, I love reading about far off places within the wonderful pages of literature. As a college student, I understand the challenges that sometimes accompany traveling, such as not having enough time or enough money. The purpose of my blog is to help everyone, whether in college or not, be able to pursue their dreams of travel. While travel is the central theme of my blog, this is also a great place to find recommendations on literature and background on famous historical sites, so even if you do not personally want to travel, you can still find some inspiration within these posts. My goal is to combine my love for both English and History to create a site that can be loved by both English and History enthusiasts across the world. So, without further ado, welcome to my blog!

 

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