Day 2 in Stratford began at the dark hour of 4 am, as we were a little jet lagged. Coffee and breakfast sorted us out nicely 4 hours later, and we set off chasing Shakespeare, praying for the sun. His birthplace, which is also his parents’ house, is the centre of the town.
It’s the weekend, and we were expecting moderate crowds, but this is the weekend of The Mop, an annual fair that has been held in town since the 14th century. This is how it impacts this medieval city:
More on the Mop later.
Shakespeare’s birthplace is a well preserved and well-exhibited piece of history. I’ve never read or watched any of Shakespeare’s plays, only excerpts and adaptations in movies. So naturally his work seems alien to me, until I saw this poster:
There’s a bit of Shakespeare in everyone’s lives!
Check out the house he was born and brought up in:
William’s father was a glove maker, and it is believed that William left school to join his father when he faced financial difficulties. The house is mostly bare, except for the essentials. There are no trinkets and baubles and decorative stuff around. It’s wonderful to see that the lack of material possessions is no barrier for creativity, and that the son of a glove maker became one of the most famous people of all times.
After the tour of his house, we were in time to join the Stratford Walking tour. John, our guide, took us around town, showing us the most interesting sights. It was more than a walk, as John made the town come alive with his dramatic flair, right from stories about young William going to school, to the origin of the Mop Fair. My favourite was how the town got its name – on the river Avon, the site of a strat (street) at the ford (a shallow area with good footing to cross the river). We came off from the walk more knowledgeable and highly entertained!
All this before lunch – a well deserved meal of Cornish pasty (oh yum!) followed by a spot of tea with maple pecan pie and lemon cake (slurp!!).
*Title credit: Souvik, in Shakespearan fervour