Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shakespeare, from Beginning to End!

This humble house is the birthplace of William Shakespeare!

His exact birth date is unknown, but he was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564.  Which means this house has been standing since before 1564.

He was 52 when he passed away, also in Stratford-upon-Avon, the same age that I am at the moment I am typing this post.

Not long enough of a life, not nearly long enough to see it all and do it all!

But I suppose for the time that he lived – 52 may have been an average life span.

He married Anne Hathaway when he was 18, and together they had 3 children, two of whom were twins.

All I knew about Shakespeare I learned in high school drama classes.  I never really stopped much to consider the life of the man who wrote such things as “A Midsummer Nights Dream” “Romeo and Juliet”  or “Othello” or “King Lear” or any of the other plays and sonnets for which he is famous ---

I was a teenager at the time I was exposed to his work and I’m sure we all thought it was dorky – or that we would look dorky portraying it, but I wish I had paid more attention then!


Shakespeare was baptized and buried here, in Holy Trinity Church.

And yes, the trees are too close to the church to get a good photo!


But it is such a beautiful spot!


Yes, more headstones, what can I say!?


It’s kind of a church-yardy thing to do!


Holy Trinity Steeple


Inside, heading up toward Shakespeare’s grave.


But hark! Lo! What’s this?


Needle point kneelers they be!

((Yes, I am putting on my best Shakespearean!))


All invoking earthly elements, they dost!

Stars & Wind &:




Heavens Above!


And Frost & Cold below

((which I am sure it is on these cold stone floors in the winter without kneelers!))

I asked a lady about the kneelers and she said they were all done by the congregation for one of the church’s big anniversaries and all were stitched by the needlework guild.  This I could get in to!


Beautiful bench cushions, each with a different saying.



I probably have these out of order.


Drawing closer to the crowd in the chancel.

((Come hither, come thither!))


Wow, this is some really great architecture!



There are Twenty-six, 15th century misericord seats in the chancel, with religious, secular and mythical carvings…they don’t look like seats, more like a little shelf that you could lean on if you were expected to stand for long periods of time.


Shakespeare's monument on the wall to the left.


RIP, William Shakespeare!


His wife Anne is by his side and other family members as well.


William Shakespeare was baptized in this font.

For a man who is so remembered 500 years later as the greatest poet and playwright of all-time, how is this for a visual – to be buried a meer 15 feet from where you were baptized as an infant.  Full circle.


Other memorials.


The bible belonging to the church that Shakespeare would have read from.


From the chancel looking back at the entrance ---


Found in an alcove --

This marker has nothing to do with Shakespeare, I just loved the hand-hewn nature of it and the words!  Biggie size it on your monitor if you can to read it…

As always, I love the history.  No matter the number of centuries that have passed, I feel a connection to the “sameness” of the human spirit and the common things we strive for in our lives.  A comfortable place to live.  Family to love and care for.  Friends to laugh with.  Food not only for our bellies, but for the pleasure of taste.  A hobby to keep my hands busy, always striving to beautify.  Hope for grandchildren and future generations who will live on beyond me.  A long life and a comfortable old age.

Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t –but I don’t think these things are too far fetched from what folks dreamed about in Shakespeare’s life time.

It was a great visit, Stratford-upon-Avon!  You are the caretaker of many jewels of great worth!

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  1. That was really fascinating! I was surprised to see his burial so close to the alter. And I loved the inscription about the wool draper. Thanks!

  2. I enjoyed your visit to England so much. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We grew up in the same era. I thought Shakespeare was a bit dorky too. The movie Romeo and Juliet came out when I was a Junior though and I LOVED it.

  3. Anonymous11:48 PM EDT

    Wow! Thanks so much for sharing! You are enabling me to see so many wonderful things; I really do appreciate it!

  4. Anonymous2:01 AM EDT

    I truly enjoy all of the photo's from the trips you sponsor.

  5. So glad that you loved England..come back again soon. I was hoping to see you at the NEC but we went on Friday. such a great exhibition.

    Helena Dx

  6. Great post Bonnie. I almost feel like I traveled along with you.

  7. You were indeed fortunate to have such glorious weather while you were in England! I've enjoyed your trip. We lived in England for 3 years in the 70's and just loved every minute. Ready to go back.

  8. Would have loved to see you at the NEC but we went on Sunday. Would love to have you teach there - have put your name forward to the organisers

  9. Bonnie, this from Wikipedia, "Draper was originally a term for a retailer or wholesaler of cloth that was mainly for clothing. A draper may additionally operate as a cloth merchant or a haberdasher"

    Happy you picked a 'fabric merchant' to memorialize.

    Linda in Naples

  10. Very cool! My thesis was on American Sign Language Productions of Shakespseare--no one had ever compiled a list before--so this post is extra special to me! Love all things Shakespeare!

  11. Looking at how long the house has stood I am amazed. Because here in Portland, OR, in my neighborhood. People are buying old homes and razing them to build new and fancy. Some are less than 100 years old, mine is 102. I guess not everyone loves history or what it takes to preserve it. It is encouraging to see that some still do.


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