London – Stratford-upon-Avon – The Theater

Our adventure in London began with an overnight flight from Atlanta to London. Flying in over the English countryside was a beautiful sight with the rolling green hills and colorful farmland.

We adjusted to the new time zone and then headed off to Stratford-upon-Avon for our Shakespeare pilgrimage. We took a train from Marylebone Station and found the train service as excellent and timely as we had heard. There were numerous little stations along the way with beautiful villages and grazing land for sheep and cattle. Ancient churches stood along more modern apartments and shops reminding us of the long history of this area. Arriving in Stratford, we joined a local walking tour and were able to experience the sights with historical information and hilarious stories of life in 16th century England. The Avon River is truly tranquil and beautiful with its famous swans gracing the waters. Holy Trinity Church has stood on its present site since 713 A.D. Started as a Saxon monastery and then converted to the local church in 1210 A.D., it was the center of town life for centuries. The beautiful church has wonderful stonework and a weeping chancellory that bends off of the knave of the church symbolizing the head of Christ on the cross bending to one side. Shakespeare’s birth and death are listed in its records and his tomb is in the chancellory.  His tomb carries its own curse warning against digging up his bones, a common practice in olden times so that the space in the church could be sold again for another burial. The bust of Shakespeare above his grave was placed in the church only seven years after his death and is believed to be a good likeness. The churchyard houses a beautiful and ancient graveyard. The town of Stratford has many historical houses of the Shakespeare family.  Wisteria covers the house of Dr. John Hall, husband of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna. The simple house that was the birthplace of William Shakespeare also housed his father’s glove making shop.

After taking tea in Stratford, we boarded the train back to London in time to attend “Les Miserables” at the Queen’s Theater. The theater was wonderful with ornate golden carvings and a beautiful ceiling. The musical was fabulous with live music in the pit. Our evening ended with a bicycle rickshaw ride through the theater district experiencing the sights and sound of nightlife in London.

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