A visit to Britain is not complete without a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. This quintessentially English town in the heart of the Cotswolds is most famous for being the birth place of William Shakespeare and literary pilgrims can visit The Bard’s birthplace and his wife, Anne Hathaway’s, cottage.
But real enthusiasts may choose to travel further afield to follow in the Bard’s footsteps across Britain. Here are 10 places to explore the legend of Shakespeare in Britain:
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London
The Globe Theatre in London has been linked with Shakespeare through 400 years and 3 buildings. The first building, constructed in 1597, burnt down in 1613 when a cannon set fire to the thatched roof during a performance of Henry VIII. The theatre was rebuilt, but in 1642 The Puritans banned all stage plays and the theatre was turned into tenement housing. In 1997 a faithful reconstruction of The Globe was built close to the original site in Southwark. You can visit the theatre, explore the Shakespeare exhibition and even see a performance.
- The National Portrait Gallery, London
The first acquisition of London’s National Portrait Gallery in 1856 was the ‘Chandos’ portrait of Shakespeare, attributed to artist John Taylor. It’s now considered the only representation of the writer that has any claim to having been painted from life.
- Hampton Court Palace, London
In 1603 Shakespeare and his players were summoned to Hampton Court to provide entertainment during the royal Christmas celebrations. They were lodged at the palace for three weeks and performed 7 plays in the Great Hall. So, if you’d like to stand in one of the only remaining theatrical spaces in which Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his lifetime, visit Hampton Court Palace.
- Windsor, Buckinghamshire
The historic town of Windsor is the backdrop for Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor. The events that unfurl take place in the town with many local landmarks featured in the play including The Castle, Frogmore, the Thames and the Garter Inn. It is likely that Shakespeare himself stayed at the Inn which has now been replaced by a hotel – stay here and you really will be following in The Bard’s footsteps.
- Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire
Broughton Castle is a moated and fortified manor house in Oxfordshire. Built in 1300 and fortified by its then lord, Broughton Castle has stood the test of time, despite being captured during the English Civil War. You might recognise it as one of the locations in British film Shakespeare in Love.
This coastal town in Pembrokeshire, Wales was described by Shakespeare as ‘blessed Milford’, and is the setting for his play 1611 romantic play, Cymbeline.
Shakespeare chose this castle with its dark and bloody history of murder and witchcraft as the backdrop for his darkest play, Macbeth. As Thane of Glamis, Shakespeare’s Macbeth resides in the castle and many believe it is where he famously murders King Duncan. Duncan’s Hall commemorates King Duncan’s death at the hands of Macbeth.
- Bosworth Field, Kent
The Battle of Bosworth, referred to in King Richard III, is where Richard III famously speaks the words ‘A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!’. The site can be visited by public footpath and the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre is well worth a visit.
- The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
Shakespeare famously brought the cliffs to the attention of the nation in the play King Lear in which the climax takes place on and around Dover’s white cliffs. You can take a stroll along Shakespeare Beach which stretches West from Admiralty Pier to Shakespeare Cliff, Dover’s most impressive cliff.
- The Forest of Arden, Warwickshire
The ancient Forest of Arden is the setting for one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, As You Like It. In the play, Rosalind flees to the Forest of Arden, likely based on Arden Forest which was situated near Shakespeare’s hometown in Warwickshire. The oldest oak in the forest has a girth of 9.2 meters and is estimated to be 1000 years old.