To celebrate Valentine’s Day we treated ourselves to a weekend in Stratford on Avon. The weather was perfect; crisp and cold with a hint of frost in the mornings, and glorious sunshine in the afternoons. Spring is such a beautiful season in the UK and it has definitely started early this year.
I could never tire of going to Stratford. I always learn something new about the life and times of William Shakespeare, and new details about the town catch my eye, which are worth a photograph. I find Stratford such a stimulating, yet relaxing place, whatever my state of mind.
During Valentine’s weekend there were smatterings of snowdrops under the trees in the churchyard and along the banks of the River Avon. It seems appropriate that snowdrops were brought to England in the early 16th century, so maybe Shakespeare would have seen some of the first ones.
There were white doves circling the spire of Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried. They sparkled in the winter sunshine reflecting the snowdrops below.
At the entrance to the church I photographed the small Sanctuary Door and knocker. This door is set into the massive 15th century doors. I have passed through it countless times not realising its importance. But I learned that anyone who held on to the ring in the knocker of the sanctuary door, would be let in and given protection for 37 days. This was a custom started in Saxon times to protect poor people from the harsh penalties for crime, and even from lynch mobs. It was upheld across the land and continued well through Shakespeare’s time until 1623.
There was also a striking streetlamp outside our hotel, which I had not noticed before. It was donated to the town by the Government of Israel. There are wonderful decorative statues and lamps all around the town, mostly donated by ambassadors from countries where Shakespeare is revered.
We stayed in the Arden Hotel, which is right opposite the Shakespeare Theatre. In fact the building was previously owned by the theatre along with many buildings along the Waterside. Naturally many famous people have passed through its doors over the years and inside there are some wonderful photographic portraits of famous actors in role. Put your cursor over the pictures to find the names and roles.
So my Valentine weekend was a great success, perfect weather in a beautiful season in my heart’s true home. In the Shakespeare Centre I came across a sketch of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife and mother of his children. It is the only known likeness of Anne and she was very beautiful. But she looks so sad. I suddenly saw her as a real person whom Shakespeare must have loved and missed very much.
Enjoy some more of my photographs below.