Situated on the banks of the beautiful River Avon in the heart of rural Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon is a beautiful medieval market town steeped in history and culture - an ideal holiday destination at any time of year. Heritage Mews self catering holiday cottage is within ten minutes' walk of the town centre with its rich variety of historic buildings and unique attractions.
Download the Official Historic Walking Guide with two walks – a riverside walk and a town centre walk.
Stratford-upon-Avon’s historic buildings:
Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Family Homes:
Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Henley Street: walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and explore the house where he was born and grew up. Learn about his family life from costumed guides and see a ‘Shakespeare Aloud’ performance of an excerpt from one of his plays.
Hall’s Croft, Old Town: the elegant Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter , Susanna and her husband, the physician John Hall. The first house in Stratford to have glass windows.
Shakespeare’s New Place, Chapel Street: the site of Shakespeare’s home from 1597 until he died in 1616. A contemporary landscape reveals the footprint of the house that was demolished in 1759.
Out of town -
Ann Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery: the cottage where Shakespeare’s wife was born in 1556 and grew up is one mile from Heritage Mews. Built in 1463 of cruck construction, the original medieval kitchen and parlour remain. See original furniture in the cottage and explore 9 acres of beautiful gardens, woodland and orchards.
Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote: the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother is 3½ miles from Heritage Mews. Experience a working ‘Tudor’ farm with crafts, falconry displays, rare breeds, and learn about Tudor customs and domestic life.
Back in the town centre -
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, Church Street: See where Shakespeare spent his schooldays in the 1570s, in the 15th century Guildhall - an outstanding timber-framed building with rare medieval wall paintings, described by historian Michael Wood as "one of the most atmospheric, magical and important buildings in the whole of Britain".
The Guild Chapel, Chapel Lane (next door to the Guildhall): Built in the 13th century by the Guild of the Holy Cross, a prominent social and religious organisation. The Chapel’s walls display rare and internationally-significant 15th century wall paintings, including one of the few surviving pre-Reformation medieval schemes painted at the same time, and painted as one piece.
The Almshouses, Chapel Street (next to the Guildhall): a row of 10 beautifully-preserved half timbered 15th century almshouses, still lived in today.
Holy Trinity Church, Old Town: a beautiful parish church situated on the banks of the River Avon where you can visit Shakespeare’s grave in the chancel.
Places of interest / things to do in Stratford:
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside: a 10 minute stroll from Heritage Mews. Home to the Royal Shakespeare Company – built in 1932 and transformed in 2010, retaining many original art deco features. Open to visitors daily - Theatre Tours, Theatre Tower with fantastic view of the river and town, free exhibitions, The Rooftop restaurant and Riverside Café.
Plays, exhibitions and special events at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre.
City Sightseeing 'Hop-on Hop-off' bus tour: an open-top bus tour of the town centre sights and nearby villages, visiting Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's Farm. 11 stops. 24 hour or 48 hour ticket for unlimited bus tours, hopping on and off whenever you wish.
Stratford-upon-Avon Town Walk: An award-winning, lively and entertaining daily guided town walk - a great way to explore Stratford-upon-Avon, its history and relationship with Shakespeare. A Ghost Walk every Saturday evening.
Avon Boating: : 40-minute sight-seeing river cruises aboard an original Edwardian passenger launch. Rowing and motor boat hire, also punts and canoes.
Riverside walk into town starting from nearby Holy Trinity Church to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Bancroft Garden and canal basin. You can cross the River on an old pedestrian ferry (a 1937-built hand wound chain ferry, the last of its kind in Britain) or walk across the Tramway Bridge (now a foot bridge, it was built in 1832 to carry the horse tramway from Stratford Wharf to Moreton-in-Marsh). From here is a good view of the magnificent 15th century Clopton Bridge with its 14 pointed arches. The canal basin, with its barge moorings and working lock into the River Avon, is surrounded by gardens. The 19th century Gower Memorial in the Bancroft Gardens is a stone and bronze sculpture of William Shakespeare surrounded by statues of characters from his plays, representing Philosophy, Tragedy, History, and Comedy.
Butterfly Farm: see hundreds of exotic butterflies from all over the world flying in a landscaped area with waterfalls, ponds and a wide variety of tropical plants. The UK's largest tropical butterfly paradise.
Stratford-upon-Avon markets: three weekly town centre markets, popular with locals and visitors alike. A traditional Charter Market every Friday with 40 plus traders selling food, clothing and gifts. Every Saturday, an Urban Mix market with local makers, farmers produce, street food, artisan food, vintage finds, collectibles, handcrafted jewellery and quirky gifts. On Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, the Waterside Upmarket has a special atmosphere with street entertainment, street food, local artists and a variety of interesting crafts and gifts. Don't miss Stratford's award-winning Victorian Christmas Market on 10, 11 and 12 December 2020.
Stratford Minigolf, on the banks of the river by the Recreation Ground: fun for all ages - not to be confused with crazy golf, this is a test of skill with tricky hazards, bumps and ramps! Tea and coffee available too!
The MAD Museum: MAD stands for Mechanical Art and Design. A quirky attraction displaying interactive mechanical art, in particular; kinetic art and automata - think of the machines in Wallace and Gromit! Great interactive fun for all ages.
Stratford-upon-Avon Greenway: Dedicated 5 mile traffic-free cycling/walking trail (cycle hire available) along Honeybourne disused railway line starting a few minutes' walk from Heritage Mews, passing Milcote (cafe, picnic area) to Long Marston village.
National Trust properties near Stratford-upon-Avon:
Charlecote Park, near Wellesbourne: a superb Tudor house, set in landscaped 'Capability' Brown parkland overlooking the River Avon. Historic herds of Jacob sheep and fallow deer roam freely. Interesting house interior and outbuildings.
Coughton Court, near Alcester: an imposing Tudor house with associations with the Gunpowder plot. A Tudor tower providing wonderful views, priest holes, beautiful grounds with a walled garden, famous Throckmorton daffodils in spring and a bluebell wood. A 10 minute drive away is
Kinwarton Dovecote: A rare 14th-century circular dovecote with metre thick walls, over 580 nesting holes and original rotating ladder, nestled in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside.
Baddesley Clinton, Lapworth, Warwickshire: A beautifully-preserved Tudor, timber-framed moated manor house with Elizabethan interiors. Originally set in the Forest of Arden and providing sanctuary to persecuted Catholics in the 1590s, with secret priest holes. Near to…..
Packwood House, Lapworth: Restored timber-framed Tudor manor house famous for its fascinating Yew Garden representing the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, colourful herbaceous borders, kitchen garden, orchard, wild flower meadow and lakeside walk.
Upton House, near Banbury: A country mansion renovated in the 1920s and home to an extensive private collection of paintings and rare porcelain. Interesting gardens created on terraces down the side of a valley
Hidcote, Mickleton: internationally renowned Arts & Crafts garden with colourful, intricately designed outdoor ‘rooms’, a maze of narrow pathways and secret gardens, magnificent vistas and woodland area.
Snowshill Manor: Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected by Charles Wade - from tiny toys to Samurai armour, musical instruments to fine clocks. Idyllic setting, lovely gardens with splendid views.
Chastleton House and Garden, near Moreton-in-Marsh: A rare gem of a Jacobean country house. Built in the early 1600s by a prosperous wool merchant, the house has remained essentially unchanged for nearly 400 years. With virtually no intrusion from the 21st century, this fascinating place exudes an informal and timeless atmosphere in a gloriously unspoilt setting. The garden still retains its Jacobean features with a kitchen garden, bowling lawn and topiary.
Croome, near Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire: Croome Court, a Neo-Palladium mansion and RAF museum in restored wartime buildings, set in magnificent 'Capability Brown' landscaped gardens and park.
Places to visit near Stratford:
Warwick Castle: One of England's best-preserved medieval castles, with dungeons, elegant 17th century Great Hall and State Rooms, 'Victorian Weekend Party', 'Kingmaker', towers, ramparts, beautiful gardens, Birds of Prey Shows and Trebuchet.
Warwick town: visit Lord Leycester Hospital and Master’s Garden (14th and 15th century timbered buildings clustered around the Norman gateway into Warwick); The Mill Garden in Mill Street, on the banks of the River Avon beneath the walls of Warwick Castle; St Mary’s Church with magnificent views from the 134 foot tower; and Hill Close Gardens (a rare opportunity to visit sixteen restored Victorian hedged pleasure gardens).
Kenilworth Castle (English Heritage): spectacular ruins of a vast medieval fortress and Elizabethan Palace. Climb 18 metres up into the tower. Stroll through the recreated Elizabethan Garden.
Compton Verney Art Gallery: an award-winning art gallery with world-class exhibitions and interesting seasonal events, set in 120 acres of stunning ‘Capability’ Brown parkland.
Sezincote: Sezincote is unique - a 200-year-old Mogul Indian palace, set in a romantic landscape of temples, grottoes, waterfalls and canals. Open Thursdays, Fridays and Bank holiday Mondays - house from May to September, gardens from January to November.
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway: a heritage railway between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse – a 28 mile round trip through spectacular Cotswold countryside.
British Motor Museum: The world's largest collection of historic British cars with over 300 cars on display, interactive exhibitions and dedicated zones on motorsport, design & concepts, royal cars and cars from film and television.
Gardens near Stratford:
In addition to the many National Trust properties with gardens -
Mill Dene Garden, Blockley: A delightful garden set in a valley around a mill, with hidden paths winding up from the mill-pool and stream through terraced gardens. Fine views at the top.
Bourton House Garden, Bourton-on-the-Hill: an award-winning three acre garden with wide herbaceous borders, imaginative topiary, a knot garden, water features and creatively planted pots. Open June to September.
Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Mickleton (near Hidcote): spectacular setting on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment. Beautiful herbaceous borders, roses, terraces and water garden. Open April to September
Batsford Arboretum & Falconry Centre, near Moreton in the Marsh: the country's largest private collection of trees and shrubs, with year round interest from the first snowdrops of spring, through to outstanding autumn colour. Garden centre. Falconry Centre with daily free-flying demonstrations.
Cotswold villages to explore
Chipping Campden: a gem of a Cotswold town with an outstanding architectural heritage. Famous for its elegant long, winding High Street lined with beautifully-preserved historic buildings. Good choice of eateries and boutiques/shops. Nearby is Dover’s Hill (National Trust), a natural amphitheatre on a spur of the Cotswolds with magnificent views over the Vale of Evesham and the start of the Cotswold Way, a national trail running along the Cotswold escarpment, covering 102 miles from the market town of Chipping Campden to the historic city of Bath.
Broadway: a quintessential Cotswold village known as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds”, renowned for its honey-coloured houses, picturesque streets and historic architecture. Great choice of independent shops, restaurants, pubs and antique shops. Footpath leads to the Cotswold Way.
Stow-on-the-Wold: a beautiful town set high in the Cotswolds, with an impressive market square, medieval stocks, interesting St Edward’s Church and picturesque streets with independent shops, antique centres, inns and tearooms.
The Slaughters: Upper and Lower Slaughter are two unspoilt, pretty Cotswold villages on the River Eye. Interesting 19th century corn mill with working water wheel in Lower Slaughter. Footpath to Upper Slaughter.
Bourton-on-the-Water: Described as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”, a charming and unique village which straddles the River Windrush, with low bridges and riverside paths. Plenty of shops, cafes and attractions (Birdland, Model Village, perfumery, model railway exhibition).
Other villages worth visiting are Ebrington, with beautiful thatched cottages and great local pub, the Ebrington Arms; Snowshill and nearby Cotswold Lavender, where you can see fields of lavender in bloom in July and August, Stanton, a 17th century hamlet, and nearby Stanway, with Stanway House & Fountain - the 300 foot high fountain is the highest gravity fountain in the world; Bretforton with the Fleece Inn (National Trust) ; Winchcombe and nearby Sudeley Castle.