For the past two years I’ve been a Yankee in the Bard’s world, spending half my time in Stratford-upon-Avon. This is unmistakably the Bard’s world, from swans on the River Avon near where he was reared to his famly’s home, now managed by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, was born here and to Stratford he returned in his retirement. He was baptized and is buried in Holy Trinity Church.
Surrounded by Shakespeare
The word bard has its origin in the Celtic word poet-singer or minstrel. Bard in the Irish Gaelic and was borrowed by the English in the early 1600s. According to Sylvia Morris, “It’s generally assumed that Shakespeare was first called ‘Bard of Avon’ or at least ‘Bard’ by David Garrick at the time of the Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769.”
Stratford is a lovely place. Parts of the city feels as if they must have been there when the Bard was but a boy. Some were. The stores below reflect the personality of an older era.
Surrounding the Bard's World
You don’t have to be a Shakespeare groupie to enjoy the Bard’s World. There are all kinds of things to do that make Stratford a delightful place to visit–punting on the River Avon, canal boats, shops, and tea rooms.
Among the things I enjoy most as a Yankee in the Bard’s world are the many bicycle and foot paths that lead right out into the countryside from where we live in the Old Town. As a writer, I am especially grateful for green spaces. A quick walk out into the country gives me a chance to reflect on things. It isn’t necessary to get in a car and go somewhere else. (Thankfully. There is that thing about the side of the road upon which one should drive.)
One of my favorite footpaths follows along a field by the River Avon. It makes a loop back to The Greenway, a 5-mile path following the old Honeybourne Railroad Line. The end point is the village of Long Marston. I’ve only been as far as the old railroad bridge where the footpath through the fields meets up with the Greenway.
Undoubtedly the landscape has changed many times over since the Bard played in the woods around Stratford. I’m grateful that so many spots of beauty remain.