Stratford upon Avon

Shakespeare, then. He is BIG business in Stratford upon Avon. I mean, HUGE. Will is everywhere, on mugs, tea towels, prints, posters. Leering out of shop windows and twinkling smugly from oil paintings. If Will Shakespeare didn’t exist, Stratford upon Avon might not exist either. Just a thought.  


Song:
Funky Nassau Pt 1 by The Beginning of the End
Food: 
Tudor cheese platter
Bar:
RSC Swan Cafe
Restaurant:
Huffkins

SUA is a lovely, charming, middle England market town that lucked out big time as the home of England’s premier poet and playwright. People flock to the place to see his actual home, his birthplace (different houses) and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (quaint and actually quite nice to wander round). They go to the RSC and eat in Hathaway’s tea room and Will’s chop house (I might have made that place up). Then, at 6pm, all the coach parties fuck off and the town goes quiet. The theatre patrons are in the their seats, lapping up a bit of Much Ado. The tourists have returned to their hotels for dinner. So you basically get this Elizabethan film-set-town all to yourself, which is brilliant fun and perfect for noodling around after a couple of pints.

Enjoy it in the evening, cos in the daytime it’s swarming with people buying up their WS tea towels and bookmarks. There’s an edgier vibe at night, so find a choice bar or pub and enjoy yourself, ’cos in the daytime you’re going to be eating a lot of Victoria sponge cake and wondering if that Anne Hathaway-shaped mug will look good in your front room. Basically, thanks for the amazing plays, Will, and also for ensuring a place like SUA exists. 

 

 

We recommend… 

Bars:

The White Swan Hotel
Proper old-fashioned bar and hotel with a good selection of ales and cider on tap. It was built in 1600 so lots of history to savour, along with your pint. And it's a Fullers pub! Love. 

The One Elm
Funky, buzzy pub with a quieter upstairs section – we ended up eating here too, as it was easier to just carry our pints up the stairs than go wandering around looking for somewhere else for dinner. Good pub grub and friendly staff. 

RSC Rooftop
We ended up drinking here for ages, just because we were lazy and the sunset over the city was too pretty to miss. A little bit pricey but the view – on sunny days – makes it 100% worth it. The restaurant gets good reviews, too. 

RSC Swan Cafe
Downstairs from the bright, light, spacious Rooftop is the Swan Cafe – hidden within the RSC itself. It’s a little spot of cosiness, all wood panelling and a giant fireplace. Perfect for a winter’s evening spent sipping a whisky (or three). 

Restaurants:

The Cottage Restaurant & Tea Garden
Oh God, it’s so quaint. Right outside of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is this little tea room. But it’s not anything like as naff as it sounds. We had a Tudor cheese platter (yes!) and a Hogan’s cider. Very nice too. 

Huffkins
I’m pretty sure all anyone ever does when they come to Straford is eat cakes and drink tea. We did a lot of both. Huffkins was a nice little bakery with an even nicer line in cakes. Dig in. 

Box Brownie Coffee
I see they boast about ‘handcrafted lattes’ on their website, which always makes me shudder a little bit. But the coffee here is very good. I couldn’t manage another cake at this point. 

The Fourteas
Christ, more tea and cake. I was awash with the stuff now. This was a fun, 1940s-style tea room so definitely worth a visit. Nice sandbags outside, too (Matron). 

Shops:

Paxton & Whitfield
More cheese! Very exciting. A great selection in here. Plus they sell pickled onions too. And port. I’m sold. 

Stratford Antiques Centre
Bit old and dusty, but good for a rummage around.


After 6pm, the coach parties fuck off, and you basically get this Elizabethan film-set-town all to yourself, which is brilliant fun and perfect for noodling around after a couple of pints.

Record store:

SJ Records
Above an antiques centre is this fabulous little store – run by a knowledgeable father-and-son team who get what collecting vinyl is all about. I’m just sorry I couldn’t fit into their child-sized 1980s Squeeze t-shirt. Recommended. 

What we did:

Saw a LOT of Shakespeare stuff. New Place and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, plus the RSC theatre. Shakespeare is not to be escaped (but all these places are lovely). Walked from AHC across some fields back to town. Saw a medieval church wall painting called ‘The Doom’. Wandered down by the river until it started to rain. Sat in medieval pubs and drank a lot of good cider.

Record: 

Funky Nassau Pt 1 by The Beginning of the End
This was playing in the tea room by Anne Hathaway’s cottage. A bit incongruous with its setting, but we loved it.  

What we bought:

Some Shakespeare badges (even I succumbed to Shakey mania). Glorious vinyl from SJ Records (New Boots & Panties, Lard). Cheese. Vast quantities of cakes from tea shops.  

House Of The Dead / Crazy golf?:

Yes! Amazingly, crazy golf exists in SUA in the park. They call it mini golf, but it’s crazy REALLY. Whoop!