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Things to See and Do in Stratford-upon-Avon - From Historic Inns to Haunted Houses

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Stratford-upon-Avon is a small town, with a compact historic centre bounded by tranquil riverside parks and gardens. Even so, its 800-year history means the narrow streets and surrounding Warwickshire countryside are packed with sights and activities. Beyond the most obvious Shakespeare-based attractions, there are also certain local experiences that you really shouldn't miss.

Chapels and churches

 

The spires of medieval churches mark out many towns and villages across the English Midlands. You can admire the stained-glass windows at many of these churches, but Stratford-upon-Avon's Guild Chapel is especially atmospheric. Founded in 1269, it was built up in the 15th century and the lovingly restored interior displays vivid frescoes from that period. The chapel overlooks New Place, where Shakespeare died, but the great playwright was both baptized and laid to rest at the nearby Holy Trinity Church. For this reason it's also known as "Shakespeare's Church," another Stratford must-see.

 

  • Guild Chapel, Chapel Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6EP; Website: Guild Chapel
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  • Holy Trinity Church, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BG; Tel: +44 1789 266316; Website: Holy Trinity Church

Ghostly guide to Stratford

 

With its 800 years of history, Stratford-upon-Avon has plenty of ghosts haunting its Tudor houses and historic theatres. Several of these specters are more than happy to show you around and tell stories from the turbulent past. The popular museum Tudor World is housed in a 15th-century building, and you can visit after hours to be led around its shadowy exhibits by lantern light. To see the sites of infamous local murders, witch trials, and Elizabethan executions, join a Stratford Town Ghost Walk with an expert guide who knows all the grisliest anecdotes.

 

  • Tudor World, 40 Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6EE; Tel: +44 1789 298070; Website: Tudor World
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  • Stratford Town Ghost Walk; Tel: +44 1789 292478; Website: Stratford Town Ghost Walk

 

Relaxing at the Waterside and Canal Basin

 

On a sunny afternoon, locals and visitors come to hang out around the Canal Basin, between the River Avon and Stratford's main shopping district. There you can sit under weeping willows in the Waterside gardens and watch the boats come and go, or rent your own and row, punt, paddle, or motor away. A number of the moored vessels double as snack bars, with the Baguette Barge handy for picnic supplies and Shakee's Ice Cream Barge a particular favorite on hot summer days.

 

 

Stratford's traditional taverns and inns

 

The heart and soul of almost any English town can be found in its longest-standing pubs, but Stratford-upon-Avon is home to some of the oldest, quaintest, and sturdiest in the country. You can easily justify a pint or two of real ale at the Old Thatch Tavern as a historical excursion - food and drink have been served to weary travellers at this local institution since the 15th century. Another timber-framed stalwart of the Stratford social scene is the Garrick Inn, which has survived plagues and fires to keep its place as the oldest and best-loved pub on High Street.

 

  • Old Thatch Tavern, Greenhill Street, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6LE; Tel: +44 1789 295216; Website: Old Thatch Tavern
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  • The Garrick Inn, 25 High Street, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6AU; Tel: +44 1789 292186; Website: The Garrick Inn