Friday, 22 July
Sorry about some the formatting but, at this point I am just trying to get posts up and am unable to spend a good deal of time cleaning up the posts and get text next to the correct picture.
It is the Friday of our long weekend and I have a lot of traveling in store in three days. First up, Christina and I caught an early train (Kerri made an appointment to look at old dresses at the London Museum and will catch up with us on the road) to Stratford-0n Avon. This is, of course the birthplace of William Shakespeare and it seemed appropriate on the 400th anniversary of his death to go there. It is also the town of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). How to give some idea of the storied history of this theatre? Well, it not possible. Peter Hall and Trevor Nunn have been artistic directors at different times. Early on, it vied to be the national theatre losing out to the National Theatre founded by Laurence Olivier. There have been a who’s who of performers at this theatre including Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Edith Evans, Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Scolfield, Judi Dench, Ian McKellan and the list goes on and on.
We spent some time just wandering and sitting on the quiet banks of the river. Coming into town we wandered through the market. We went looking for the church where Shakespeare is buried and eventually found it.
The church is smaller than you might think. Most of the churches are but when you go inside, they seem much larger especially in the photographs. We were asked to donate a small amount to enter and that was no problem. Of course, there were quite a number of people and a number of things to see in the church besides the grave. A number of his family are also buried there as well.
The interior of the church looks like it should called a cathedral but, it is small by comparison. Nonetheless, beautiful. The stonework, the floors and every element of course is old and has a patina not to be believed.
We lingered at the church inside and out. The gravestones are so worn and weathered. Many of the names and dates have worn away with time. They are covered in moss and sit reminding us of the many generations that have lived in this town. We sate outside on the river bank and watched the river gently flow by. The swans anxiously wait for food from the tourists.
We headed down to find Shakespeare’s birthplace – the house. It sits on a busy pedestrian walkway that no longer resembles anything of the origin. The tourist trade controls all but this one house still standing from the 16th century. We opted not to go in since the crowds were thick.
We moved onto the RSC and along the way, there were, of course a number of Tudor style structures remaining from the 16th century. I was suddenly reminded of Bath (where I am headed before the weekend is out) that so very 18th century. We just don’t have towns like these in the US. We aren’t this old. The one above struck me humorously since you can see the undulating lines of the structure make it seem about to collapse.
It was really a worth while trip to see this theatre. Something of the same thing I felt upon seeing the Old Vic for the first. The history, some of which I detailed above is storied and it gives me pause to just be in it. Perhaps next time I come, I can arrange to attend a performance but, not this time. Too little time. We did have a great lunch and take our time over dessert. On the sixth floor, we had a great view of the river and the town.
We decided it was time to move on and catch the train to our next destination, Chipping Norton where Christina arranged a room at a pub for the three of us. Kerri is meeting us there and we will go one in the morning to our next stop.
We caught the bus in Stratford for a quick (30 minute) ride to Chipping Norton. It turned out to be a small town and the room over the pub was spacious and clean and QUIET and across the street from the bus stop.
Kerri arrived soon after and we strolled through the town exploring and looking for the church. We found it and were able to go in much to my consternation. No one was there but a welcome sign and feel free to look and take pictures. I signed the guest book which was left out for visitor.
All in all it has been a great adventure today. We retired to The Fox pub and had dinner and I enjoyed a beer and a glass of wine. Sleep was good and quiet and tomorrow promises to be more of the same.