Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Stratford upon Avon Town Trail

Today staff and students travelled the two and a half hours to the beautiful and terribly hot Stratford-Upon-Avon, the home of William Shakespeare. The town itself is composed on a unique array of boutique shops and tea houses as well as a wealth of culture left by Shakespeare.

When we arrived, the group was fortunate enough to be met by Matthew Edwards of whom provides presentations and information about our destinations to the students before we venture out on our trips. Matthew led the students to the Holy Trinity Church, located on the banks of the River Avon where Shakespeare was both baptised in 1564 and buried in 1616. The students all respectfully made their donation to the Church and were fortunate enough to see not only the grave of Shakespeare but also of his wife Anne Hathaway, Thomas Hall, Dr John Hall and his wife Susanna Shakespeare.

Next it was time to walk through the beautiful English gardens present in Stratford and make our way to the birthplace of Shakespeare. The students were fortunate enough to see where Shakespeare, ate, played, studied and grew up. His father, John Shakespeare made his living as a glove maker and we were able to see all the types of gloved of which his father made. Not only this but when making our way through the gardens, we were all able to witness ‘Shakespeare Aloud’ where actors and actresses dressed up in Shakespeare costume, acted and performed pieces from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. The students sat and watched these mini-performances in beautiful English gardens with the sun shining brightly – not bad for a Monday afternoon!

At this point it was time for lunch and the students were also allowed free time to explore the wonders of Stratford, this included people cycling around selling traditional ice cream, wondering along the River Avon and being able to taste some of the best fish and chips England has to offer!

Finally, what better way to round off the day then a guided tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Schools were taken around in small groups and were lucky enough to sit inside both the Swan Theatre and the Shakespeare Theatre. The capacity of the theatre was deceptive, with many of the students guessing they only seated around 200-300 people when in fact it holds up to 1,040!

The students saw how the stages were crafted and learnt about both acoustics and projections, which are both vital for a successful Shakespeare performance. Finally, we were fortunate enough to go behind the scenes and get a personal look and where the costumes are held and where the performers go back stage.

All in all, it’s safe to say that today couldn’t have been a more perfect combination of British sunshine and culture!