Cycle into the home of England’s greatest writer
For any William Shakespeare fans, whether you have studied his works in school, seen one of his plays, or have just been curious to know more about the man and his extraordinary literary gifts, Stratford-upon-Avon is well worth the visit. Shakespeare was both born and buried in this historic town and our Stratford day tour gives an incredible insight into his life. His love for the town is clearly matched by Stratford’s celebration of Shakespeare as the most influential English language writer of all time, and forever our national bard.
From Shakespeare’s birth to his death – A Walking Tour of Stratford
Active England’s Stratford tour takes our guests to all of the town’s Shakespearean highlights. We begin the day with a leisurely cycle ride through the rolling Warwickshire countryside and along a beautiful ‘rail-to-trail’ converted railway that leads right to Shakespeare’s burial place. Shakespeare was buried in Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church at the age of 52. To us, this seems relatively young, but in Shakespeare’s time the life expectancy of a person born in England was only 30 years old. Less than half of all born survived beyond their 15th birthday so Shakespeare can be considered to have lived to a ripe old age!
Heading into town we explore to explore the quaint half-timbered house where Shakespeare was born, as part of a Shakespeare Museum tour. The circumstances of his birth were just as miraculous as his old age. Born in 1564, Shakespeare was only a few weeks old when Stratford-upon-Avon was hit with an outbreak of the plague – 238 people in Stratford were recorded as having died during his first 8 months of his life. A staggering figure considering that the town only had a total population of 800 people – that’s nearly one-third of the population who died before his first year!
Shakespeare and the English Language
Become inspired by Shakespeare in Stratford! Even having learned his plays at school, it is hard to underestimate the effect of his work on our literary culture: Shakespeare’s contribution to the English language, as poet, playwright and actor is unprecedented. We often use phrases today that were coined by him, despite his death over 450 years ago!
When you say you will wait with ‘bated breath’ you are taking a line from The Merchant of Venice. Similarly, if you begin a joke with ‘knock knock! Who’s there?’, you are copying a style of joke first found in Macbeth. From ‘forever and a day’ – attributed to As You Like It, to ‘wild-goose chase’ – from Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare lives on in our everyday language, here and across the pond too!
The Royal Shakespeare Company
There is much to see and do around Stratford and, as well as the main Shakespeare attractions, our tours give guests time to explore the town and riverside. There are some beautiful walks to take down by the banks of the river Avon and plenty of places to eat, both riverside and more centrally. The famous Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has a huge presence in this town, and it is here you can see a theatre performance live on our 6-day Cotswold Tour. During your visit, why not fully immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s world and let us book you an evening performance of one of his plays, or other playwrights like Arthur Miller or Oscar Wilde, put on by the RSC.