Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Joining the Thespians in Stratford upon Avon

It's been a few days since our last posting and we've not gone far.  Tonight (Wednesday) we are spending our fourth and final night in Stratford.  But let's start with getting there.

Last Friday we did some painting jobs on Leo and, after lunch, we walked into Wootton Wawen before cruising a short distance to Wilmcote:
The church at Wootten Wawen is fascinating.  The part now used for services is a mix of Norman and Saxon, but the Lady Chapel alongside is open to the roof and is likened to a barn.  This now houses an exhibition showing the long history of the village.  Another part of the nave is beyond this with a huge east window.

The Hall at Wootton Wawen is an impressive building.  It is not open to the public, though you can view the outside, and seems to be home and office to Allen's Caravans.  A mobile home park is in the grounds.

The second of the 3 'iron trough' aqueducts is here and crosses the road.  We later took Leo across it.

Here is the view looking down to the road as we cruised across it.

The final aqueduct we crossed heading on to Wilmcote is Edstone and is the most impressive.  It is 200 yards long and crosses two roads, a railway and a river.  As with the others the towpath is below the water level and gives pedestrians a duck's eye view of the boats.

To illustrate this here is Helen down below walking over the aqueduct.
On Saturday morning we visited the first of the houses owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Mary Arden's House and farm.  This is where his mother was brought up.  After lunch back on board we went down the 11 locks at Wilmcote and stopped for the night on the edge of Stratford:
This is Palmers Farmhouse next door to Mary Arden's family home.  It is likely that William came to Wilmcote to visit his grandparents and his Mother may well have brought him here to escape an outbreak of the plague just after he was born.

Here we are looking down Wilmcote locks towards Stratford seen in the distance.
On Sunday we came down the last 6 locks into the canal basin in the centre of Stratford right by the Royal Shakespeare Company's theatre on the riverfront.
Here you can see Lady Macbeth pointing straight at Leo in the basin.

Judith, a friend from Canada, had contacted us a few days before. Having read our blog and visiting her mum nearby she contacted us and we managed to meet in Stratford.  it was great to catch up with her and to wander around Stratford together before having a meal at the Dirty Duck.

We walked down the far bank of the Avon and caught the chain ferry back to town.  The ferryman asked if anyone would like a go, so Ian volunteered to wind the ferry across the river.  He still had to pay his 50p though!
We've stayed in Stratford mainly to see a few RSC  productions.  We saw "The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich" the first night.  This comedy was written by Mary Pix in the late 1600s and was excellent.  Last night we saw "The Duchess of Malfi" which is better known but we didn't really enjoy it.  Actors spent the second half fighting and dying in a giant pool of blood on stage.  Tonight is King Lear, so we are hoping this will be more to our taste.  Still 3 shows on 3 successive nights is pretty good going.  If you buy tickets on the day they are much cheaper too.

Aside from drama on stage we have completed our visits to Shakespeare related houses and today we've moved out of the basin down onto the River Avon:
This is Shakespeare's birthplace on Henley Street where he was brought up.  Like the other houses it has a well tended garden.

At New Place, which William bought to house his family, the house has long gone but the large garden remains.  In the foreground is a knot garden and on the lawn beyond are some Mulberry trees, one of which may be a cutting from one around in William's time.

Stratford is a very attractive town even without the Shakespeare connection.  This is Chapel Street.

And this is further along Chapel Street with a school and almshouses.

Here is the view from the Rooftop Restaurant at the theatre looking upstream on the Avon to the Tramway and Clopton bridges.


Yesterday, Tuesday, we walked to the outskirts of Stratford to see Anne Hathaway's cottage shown here.  This is where William's wife was brought up on a working farm.  It is amazing that so many of the houses associated with Shakespeare have survived thanks largely to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The basin at Stratford is a wonderful place to moor right in the town.  We even met some boating friends, Tim and Dianne on Kingfisher, who stayed a couple of days too.  Today (Wednesday) we took Leo down the lock onto the Avon and went first upstream for nearly 2 miles to the navigable limit at least for Leo: little boats could go another half mile to the weir at Alveston.  Here is Leo about to go under the Tramway bridge.

Swiftly followed by the Clopton bridge.

This view is looking upstream from where we turned round.  Beyond here the river becomes narrow and shallow.

Here is Leo where I am currently typing this, having come back downstream to Stratford.  The brick building with the red brollies on the other side of the river is the RSC Theatre.  Lots of hired rowing boats and motor boats are constantly passing us as well as a couple of trip boats going along the river.
So tomorrow boating starts again as we cruise down the River Avon eventually to Tewkesbury where it meets the River Severn.  Sadly the continuous fine and sunny weather is due to break tomorrow.  We just hope the river does not flood as it did last time we were on the Avon.

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