“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts”.
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII
The many parts that Shakespeare created live today through players all over the world, continuously re-imagined and performed. At the time of his death in 1616, he left the world with the gift of 37 plays and 154 sonnets. His works even influenced our daily conversations – idioms used by the English in the present day have their first appearances in the Bard’s work. Without realising it, those who declare “Love is blind” or remark “for goodness sake”, “good riddance” or “there’s method in my madness” are all quoting from the Elizabethan poet and playwright, who on this year will be the subject of many events and activities as England celebrates the life of William Shakespeare, who died on April 23rd, 400 years ago.
The team here at British Tours are great fans of the Bard, and compiled a list of our favourite sites in recognition of 400th year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. You can visit these sites on one of our private driver-guided tours.
5. Southwark Cathedral
Shakespeare was thought to have prayed at Southwark Cathedral (located next to the bustling Borough Market), as actors from his plays are recorded as local parishioners. There is however more of a concrete connection with Shakespeare – his brother Edmund was buried inside, meaning Shakespeare would have been present at the funeral. It’s also the site of a memorial to both Shakespeare and the American actor Sam Wanamaker, whose efforts lead to the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre.
4. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
As the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife, this cottage was most likely where Shakespeare came to court his future bride. The house contains many pieces of original furniture, and is set in rather romantic gardens – it’s a rather pleasant thought to imagine Shakespeare’s young romance flourishing here in such a beautiful setting. The house also contains a series of sculptures, with the designs of these sculptures based on Shakespeare’s plays.
3. Holy Trinity Church
Shakespeare returned to Stratford upon Avon after his time in London, and was eventually buried in the same church where he had been baptised. He is thought to have died on his birthday (a rather unfortunate birthday present!) and is buried in the church along with his wife Anne, who died many years after Shakespeare. Rather interestingly, the memorial to Shakespeare is thought to be one of the most accurate representations of Shakespeare’s likeness, as most of the portraits attributed to Shakespeare were painted after his lifetime. This monument however was created during the lifetime of Shakespeare’s wife, so is more likely to be an accurate representation of his looks!
2. Shakespeare’s Birthplace
In Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare was born into one of the wealthiest homes on his street. Its large size shows the wealth of the Shakespeare family – his father, John had married the daughter of a rich landowner, Robert Arden. Due to their wealth, Shakespeare was educated at a local grammar school. It’s somewhere to go if you wish to imagine the world wherein the young Shakespeare grew, and is a literary pilgrimage for many.
- The Globe theatre and Sam Wannamaker Playhouse
After visiting London for the first time in 1949, American actor Sam Wannamaker championed efforts to have a reconstruction of the Globe theatre built. The Globe was completed in 1997 and now regularly performs Shakespeare’s plays and those of his contemporaries. You can take a tour with an in-house guide as part of your London tour, and also of the Sam Wannamaker playhouse, the indoor theatre built to pair with the Globe. You’ll be able to imagine yourself as an audience member of Shakespeare’s plays inside these beautiful Tudor reconstructions, which are both a great tribute to the playwright and cultural influence that he had in England.
British Tours offers several bespoke Shakespeare tours, from day trips to Stratford-upon-Avon to London sightseeing tours visiting the London sites. Get in touch with us now to plan your tour of Shakespeare locations for the 400th year anniversary.