TO BE OR NOT TO BE FROM THE SKY
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) is a theatre with more than 1,040 seats that belong to the Royal Shakespeare Company so one can imagine whom it was dedicated to. The RST was inaugurated in 1932, which was the first important construction built in Gran Britain from a design of an architect named Elizabeth Scott. It was renamed as Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961, after the establishment of the Royal Shakespeare Company one year before. It is a theatre with just one room which permits the actors and the public to share the same space, which was done when the Shakespeare´s works were produced by the first time in XVI Century. The scenery reaches the public that are seated in three sides which permits the audience to get close to the actors creating a more personal experience. When you are inside this theatre, you really notice the difference among the traditional theaters. It’s unique. Besides, there are many art deco characteristics such as the stairs and the corridors of both sides of the auditorium.
There is a cafeteria-restaurant located on the top floor: The Rooftop Restaurant with a view to the Avon River. This cafeteria is with no doubts, a perfect place to have a beautiful view not only of the city but also an amazing view of the landscape around. But if you want to go a little bit above to enjoy the view of the city, there is also in this building another tower of 36m. This building is the tallest of the city. Located at 32m high, there is an observatory platform where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city which saw the birth of Shakespeare. Who has not declaimed one time in life, jokingly or seriously: “To be or not to be, that is the question?” Would you not think that this is the ideal place to do it? But this time you can do it with you husband, wife, partner, or friend from the trip. Who will be performing as Hamlet proposing this existential doubt? Generally, in the theatre representations, Hamlet declares his rhetorical question with a skull in hands, but we imagine that you wouldn’t have one in your bag! You can improve your presentation with a good tea or a beer which makes you mix many pleasures simultaneously such as hearing, seeing and tasting which certainly will make you remember this place with so much affection and happiness.
How can we get to this place? It is very easy: the tower that we are going up is the highest building of the city, it is along the Avon River in Waterside.
Waterside, that is the name of the bank of the river.
TASTE A PIE
Actually, “pie” is an English term used to describe cakes in general. If we could consider that something is really a highlight in the English gastronomy, it would be the pie. The pies are very elaborated deserts.
Among the more popular pies, we can point out the carrot cake. This delicious desert is an example of how the economy influences in the gastronomy because it was born during the period of the British rationing. The main ingredient is carrot, which in the past, was used as sweetener during the lack of sugar. The carrot was mashed, mixed with dough, eggs, and butter and then it was roasted. Nowadays, people used to cover this pie with butter mashed with sugar and the final result is mouthwatering. The Victory Sponge, which is known as Victorian pie, owes its name to Queen Victoria who liked to eat a lot and had the habit of drinking tea and eating cookies every afternoon. When the yeast powder was discovered, they improved its quality a lot and so this desert became spongier and gained more volume. There are two portions of cookies and in between, are raspberry jam and sour cream. The final result: simple desert but ideal to accompany the tea. Everybody likes the Red Velvet cake. It is a classic, sophisticated and subtle desert even for its name, with chocolate flavor of blood red or dark red color, covered with layers of butter cream or cream cheese.
If you want to eat like Queen Victoria, who loved candies and sweets, these are some samples of the most familiar ones. J
Just thinking about them makes your mouth water! So, do not just be with the desire! You can find endless cozy coffees and patisseries in the city, especially on Henley Street, close to Shakespeare´s House.
TAKE A BEAR! NO! ENGLISH PORCELAIN!
Undoubtedly, this city is loaded with history and literature and it is worth buying something to remember this place.
From a thousand and one things that we could find here, it would be very interesting if you could take a look at Stratford Antiques Centre. It is a building which offers small and pretty antique shops. We could say that this place is an old building where in its interior, the small traders used to rent spaces to offer their goods. Furthermore, it is a covered gallery which sometimes is taken to be a real relief considering the rainy days, so common in the British weather. In this antiques market, we could find old dolls, necklaces, pins, lithographs, coins and innumerable different objects and logically, the famous teddy bears, that the English love so much! The name of this small bear, Teddy, came from the President of the USA, Theodore Roosevelt, whose diminutive is Teddy. Roosevelt, who was the president of the first decade of Century XX.
He was in a promotional hunting and he refused to shoot a bear which was already injured. This compassionate act of the president had a great impact and that moment was immortalized by the graphic designer Berryman who made a caricature which became very popular. A couple, owner of a candy shop, had the idea to give this small bear the name of the president to remember the event and thus, Teddy Bear was born. These bears are pure art. They are not mass-produced which makes it a real struggle for the collectors to get them.
Generally, they have moveable heads, arms and legs. The joints to unite the extremities and the head are sometimes done with screws but there are others articulated with buttons, chains or whatever the artisans decide. The leather used to fabricate them has a great variety like the bears. The mohair (Angora goat´s wool) needs fabric weaving, dyeing and cutting. Besides the mohair, there are other kinds of leathers that are fluffy (synthetic) which are fabricated for the Teddy Bears market. Undoubtedly, the Teddy Bear is something very special which is rich in history. Regarding the porcelain, there are: Wedgwood or porcelain of Chelsea, both fabricated since XVIII Century. We can find vessels, coffee and tea sets, objects full of details that are really amazing such as small animals, army men or historical figures from the British history.
Is there anything fancier than having tea with those pieces of old British porcelain? Of course, there is a small cafeteria where we could have a tea with homemade cookies which will make us very happy!
59-60 Ely Street. Ali
SHAKESPEARE ´S FOUNTAIN
In 1878, the Dean of Westminster visited the United States as a guest of a famous painter, typesetter and owner of a newspaper: Mr. George Willian Childs. He donated one stained glass to the Westminster Abbey celebrating the two poets Herbert and Gowper. During this meeting, Childs expressed to the Dean his wish of donating another stained glass dedicated to Shakespeare. After years, they finally decided that this memorial could be a fountain with potable water which could be used by men and animals and that it should be in the square of the Rother Street Market. The city itself committed to supply the fountain with water and electricity. The artist Jethro Anstice Cossins was responsible for the design in 1886. The fountain was formed by a clock tower integrated to the base, one trough for the cows and horses, another one for dogs and sheep and one for the people.
The fountain-tower was dedicated to William Shakespeare, but its inauguration coincided with the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887. Therefore, they were obliged to do one double dedication to Victoria and Shakespeare. In the opening day, many poems were read, a special thanksgiving speech was given to Mr. Childs and also a telegram from the Queen was also read.
It was a big surprise when this telegram from the Queen was read in which her Majesty thanked Mr. Childs for such a beautiful gift for her and for the city. Many famous celebrities were there, such as Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. From this day, the memorial was named: The American Fountain or The Shakespeare Memorial Fountain.
Many people come here without seeing this precious Victorian fountain of Neo-Gothic style. Its aspects are like a small Gothic castle with small statues in all sides. There are many details and now that you know where it is, there is no excuse for not taking a picture there. Address: The fountain is located in Rother Street on the corner with Wood Street.
HARVARD IN UK?
We all know that the Harvard University is from USA and the two of the most famous British universities are Oxford and Cambridge. So, why is there a place named “House of Harvard” in Stratford?
Well, this connection begins in 1605 with the marriage of Katherine (Thomas Rogers´ daughter) and Robert Harvard of Southwark in this city.
Robert was a butcher, owner of a tavern and a guard of the St. Saviour of London Church which is now named Cathedral of Southwark. His son, John Harvard, was born in 1607 and because of his father´s position, he could study at St. Saviour School. Because of the Black Plague in 1625, the family was reduced and only John, his brother and his mother survived. With this new situation, the mother could send his son to study at Cambridge where he was ordained as minister of the church. To continue this long saga which seems like a soap opera, John got married to Ann Sandler in 1637. One year after the marriage they emigrated to Massachusetts, where John worked as a preacher and a teacher for adults until his early death from tuberculosis in 1638. But before his death the settlers had founded one college in Newtowne, which soon was named Cambridge (like the Cambridge of England) because many settlers had studied there before emigrating.
As John had inherited a lot of money from his father, her mother and brother, he arrived to this new University with 750 pounds of that time (which nowadays is the equivalent to approximately 3 million pounds), with his own library and as gratitude, the colony renamed the University College as Harvard College. Harvard is the oldest educational institution of America and as you can see, the cultural ties with Stratford are very strong. In the same main street of the city, we can find the Harvard House which was built in 1596 by Thomas Rogers, the grandfather of John Harvard. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most beautiful houses and oldest of this region. On the facade we can see the initials of Thomas and his second wife, Alice, carved in wood.
Thomas was already old when he built this house (60 years old) and on an extra curious note he worked as a municipal councilman with William Shakespeare´s father. In 1909, this house was bought by a millionaire of Chicago, Edward Morris and after a great restoration, it was delivered to the University of Harvard as property. Don´t miss it! This is a precious house!
26 High Street (In the center of the city)
“TO BE OR NOT TO BE”
We are in the magnificent Shakespeare´s land, a city that resumes art in the four corners of the coast. We all know the famous sentence: “To be or not to be,” which appears in the work “Hamlet”, the Prince of Denmark, written around the year 1603.
Do you dare to transform yourself into Hamlet? Do you dare to recite to have some of your traveling friends record you? You can do it in every natural scenario of the city and nobody is going to look at you in a surprised manner. Surely, residents and bystanders would love it because this entire city loves Shakespeare.
So, here is your challenge, the monologue is short, it is part of the Third Act, Scene 1. And you will not have the excuse that you don´t know the lines because we are going to write it down below.
“To be or not be, that is the question: Whether ´tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand nature shocks that flesh is heir to, ´tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish´d. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there´s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there´s respect that makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor´s wrong, the proud man´s contumely, The pangs of despised love, the law´s delay, The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would Fardles bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover´d country from whose bourn No traveler returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills have than fly to others that we know not of? Thus, conscience does make cowards of us all; And thus, the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o´er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With the regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. -Soft you now! The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in the orisons Be all my sins remember´d.”
SHAKESPEARE AND THE LANGUAGE OF THE FLOWERS
Bancroft Gardens are some of the gardens along the river´s edge, very close to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and The Swan Theatre. In these gardens, we will find a monument known as “Monument of Shakespeare” but the real name is Gower Memorial. The monument was made of bronze and stones and is an architectural complex dedicated to William Shakespeare and the main characters of his book built between 1876 and 1888 by Lord Ronald Gower and L. Madrassi.
The first peculiarity is, it is on the list of the monuments of protection under Category II by the British Heritage (the maximum level of protection is I) because it is a magnificent example of public monuments of the Victorian period with an expressive style and a high quality of the details of the sculptures. It celebrates Willian Shakespeare´s life and plays. When it was inaugurated in 1888, Oscar Wilde went to the ceremony.
It took twelve years for the monument to get ready in Paris. First, it was situated next to the theatre but after the devastating fire of 1926, it was moved to its actual location in 1933. The central circular pedestal shows us Shakespeare connecting with his thoughts, seated in a casual and relaxing position holding one pencil and one roll of paper. On the pedestal, there are some small texts of works such as: HenryV, Henry IV, Macbeth and naturally, Hamlet. In the four corners of the central pillar, there are four plinths with Greek masks representing the theatre and leaves and flowers associated to the four images that we can see on the plinths: the Lady Macbeth, which represents tragedy with peonies and poppies; Hamlet, which represents philosophy with cypress and ivy leaves; the Hal princess, representing history with English roses and French lilies and finally the Falstaff, representing comedy with hops and roses.
Don´t you think that the details of the flower and leaves are interesting? But we need to remember that during the period of the Victorian romanticism, “the language of the flowers” was very fashionable and each of them had a different meaning which was widespread knowledge. To summarize: the peonies mean wish, desire, relief, veracity; the poppy means success, pleasure and dreams; the ivy means happiness in the matrimony and richness desires...
Bancroft Gardens, close to the Bridge Foot Street.
ALL SHAKESPEARE Everybody knows that the main importance of the city of Stratford comes from William Shakespeare, illustrious son of this city and the most important author of the English language. So, let´s take a walk and discover the most important buildings related to the bard. Let´s begin by the Henley Street, where the birth house of Shakespeare is located. This is the house where the family lived when our author was born in April, 1564. We could appreciate the house, one among the many buildings, with Tudor style in the city. If you wish you can visit the house. Arriving to the end of the street, we turn to the right to enter in the main street of the city: High Street and we will begin to admire more Tudor style houses with wooden framework and adobe walls, passing also in front of Harvard House, which belonged to the family who built the University of Harvard in USA. Continuing in this same street, we will see that the name of this street is going to change. It is no longer Higher Street but Chapel Street. Here, there are two very important places: Nash´s House and New Place. Nash´s House was a property of Shakespeare´s granddaughter: Elizabeth and her first husband Thomas Nash; and New Place was the house that Shakespeare established himself when he was already famous and where he lived during the last years of his life until his death in 1616. Nash´s house is very well conserved and receive many exhibitions. But unfortunately, only the foundation and the gardens remain from the New Place, because in 1759, the Reverend Francis Gastrell decided to demolish it. Here, Shakespeare wrote some of his last works such as “The Tempest” and it was the second biggest house of Stratford at that time. Continuing till the end of the street, we will turn left passing by Hall´s Croft. This elegant Tudor house is where the oldest of Shakespeare´s daughters, Susanna lived with her husband, Doctor John Hall. The interior of the house was decorated with sumptuousness and there are many kinds of medicinal herbs in the garden. We will continue walking a little bit more until we arrive at the gardens of the Church of Holy Trinity, where Willian Shakespeare, his wife Anne Hathway, Doctor John Hall and his wife Susanna Shakespeare were buried. The tombs are in the interior of the temple and we need to pay to visit them, but just to have a walk around the cemetery is free. We could see, located next to the church, the Avon River, so what we are going to do is take a walk on the river bank an
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HAVING AN ICE CREAM ON THE BOAT?
In the center of Stratford, close to the Bancroft Gardens Park, next to the theaters, is where the channels of the Avon River combine to form the Basin Stratford-Upon-Avon Channel. These channels were fashionable in XIX century and many were excavated, they are not natural. They were built in the entire country and some people affirm that it is also possible to know all England by a canal boat without getting off, going through channel to channel. The channel boats were named so due to its shape. They are characteristically narrow and long with a flat bottom with little keel and were built like this specifically to cross all the channels. Some of them are used to having some tours and other ones have a bedroom where you can spend the night or in case you decide to get to know all the country like this. Certainly, in the films produced in England in the Victorian time, like Howard´s End or Maurice, you can see some of these boats crossing the channels with some protagonists dressed with clothing from that time period. The men were wearing their costumes and hats and the ladies with their long dresses and always protecting themselves with a parasol to maintain their skin very white. Isn’t it so romantic? Would you like to have a boat ride? If so, don´t forget do ask how long is the ride...otherwise you would probably need to live in the city!
This is a perfect place for a picnic. There are many kinds of boats, including one that is an ice cream parlor. This is a good option because during the ride you will be able to see one of those channel boats and enjoy ice creams during this relaxing moment. Sometimes the tourist´s life could be very hard!
Canal Cottage or Canal Rd. Hatton. There are many nice ice cream parlors.
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