Home » Posts tagged 'Cotswolds'

Tag Archives: Cotswolds

2016 commemorates 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare

Death of most performed playwright in the world to be marked in Stratford-on-Avon, London and across the globe.

The world shares him and London claims him, but Stratford-on-Avon intends to spend 2016 celebrating William Shakespeare as their man: the bard of Avon, born in the Warwickshire market town in 1564, and who died there 400 years ago.


Portrait of Shakespeare, 1598. Photograph: Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive/Corbis

Stratford remained hugely important throughout Shakespeare’s life, argues Paul Edmondson, the head of learning and research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. “People have seen Shakespeare as a Dick Whittington figure, who turns his back on Stratford and his family, goes to London to earn his fortune and only comes back to die,” he said.

“[But Stratford is] where he bought land and property, where he kept his library, where he lived and read and thought. We are going to spend the year re-emphasising the importance of Shakespeare, the man of Stratford.”

The 17th-century diarist, antiquarian and gossip John Aubrey, born 11 years after Shakespeare died, was at pains to point out there was nothing so very special about the bard. Aubrey, university educated unlike Shakespeare, said that he acted “exceedingly well” and that “his Playes took well”.

The world has not agreed with Aubrey. The anniversary of the death of the man from Stratford, the most famous and the most performed playwright in the world, will be marked across Britain and the globe.

Macbeth is about to open in Singapore, Romeo and Juliet in Brussels. Shakespeare’s Globe is completing the first world tour in the history of theatre, in which it has taken Hamlet to almost every country – North Korea is still holding out. The production will arrive back in London for the anniversary weekend of 23-24 April. They are also creating a 37-screen pop-up cinema, one screen to showcase each of Shakespeare’s plays, along the South Bank.

The National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and virtually every other theatre production company in the country will be marking the anniversary. Interpretations will range from the resolutely traditional to the Brighton-based Spymonkey’s Complete Deaths, a romp through the 74 deaths – 75 including a fly squashed in Titus Andronicus – by stabbing, poisoning, smothering and smashing across the plays. There will also be hundreds of lectures, recitals, international academic conferences, films, concerts, operas and major exhibitions.

For a man famous in his own lifetime there is little documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s life and times. The plays would scarcely have survived if his friends and fellow actors had not gathered together every scrap of every play they could find – drafts, prompt scripts, scribbled actors’ parts, and 17 plays not known in any other version – into the precious First Folio published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death.

The actor Mark Rylance has called it his favourite book in the world, and most of the surviving First Folios will be on display – including those belonging to the British and Bodleian libraries, and a tattered copy recently discovered in France.

Some of the most precious surviving documents will be gathered together in an exhibition at Somerset House in London, opening in February and jointly organised by the National Archives and King’s College London, including four of his six known signatures, which are all slightly different.

By Me, William Shakespeare will include his will, the court papers relating to the audacious move when Shakespeare and his fellow actors dismantled a theatre on the north side of the Thames and rebuilt it as the Globe on the South Bank, and accounts showing payments from the royal treasury for Boxing Day performances of James I and Queen Anne.

The outgoing Globe director, Dominic Dromgoole, recently jokily claimed Shakespeare as a true Londoner – albeit conceding “some spurious claim” by Stratford-on Avon. Stratford, however, will be insisting that the town made and educated Shakespeare His old school room is being restored with a £1.4m Heritage Lottery grant, to open as a permanent visitor attraction.

Shakespeare bought the splendid New Place, the second best house in the town, where he died according to literary legend on St George’s Day, 23 April, the same day as his birth. “You don’t buy a house like New Place and not live there,” Paul Edmondson said. “The general public and many academics have consistently underestimated the importance of Stratford to Shakespeare.”

Shakespeare bought the splendid New Place, the second best house in the town, where he died according to literary legend on St George’s Day, 23 April, the same day as his birth. “You don’t buy a house like New Place and not live there,” Paul Edmondson said. “The general public and many academics have consistently underestimated the importance of Stratford to Shakespeare.”
Article source

2016 commemorates 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare; this special anniversary year is a truly unique opportunity to visit his home town Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire to celebrate the lasting legacy of the world’s greatest playwright. Start planning your visit to Shakespeare’s England in 2016 to see one of his plays performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company, tour his Birthplace, pay your respects at his grave at Holy Trinity Church or simply walk in his footsteps and explore the place he called home.

Our popular Bards and Battles Day Tour visiting Stratford upon Avon departs daily from central London and our private customised tours can easily be arranged fro small groups and families.

The  Small Group Tour Co.

The prettiest streets in Great Britain

What could be more appealing than a row of beautiful houses in a picture-perfect setting? Caroline McGhie explores the country’s roads to happiness

In the pursuit of wealth, status and privacy, we sometimes forget that some of the prettiest streets in the country are as heart-stopping as our greatest country houses and cityscapes.

Largely built many centuries ago, they make the most of local materials and topographical quirks, and the houses along them rise and fall as rhythmically as the notes in a song.

They attract house buyers as surely as bees to pollen, but prices don’t always have to break the bank.


You can’t shake off the world of E F Benson’s Mapp and Lucia in Rye: tea shops, choirs, am-dram societies and artists, and everyone knows everyone else’s business. People are drawn by the delightful Georgian and half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, pretty harbour and quirky shops. Mermaid Street is storybook lovely, with cobbles running steeply downhill and historic houses either side.

Phillips & Stubbs is selling a Grade II-listed heavily timbered house with 16th-century origins, four bedrooms, leaded-light windows and crown post roof for £1.4 million. It lies in the heart of the Conservation Area, along from the famous Mermaid Inn, which is one of England’s oldest and is stuffed with four posters and secret passageways. Turn the corner and there is Lamb House, home of E F Benson when he was writing his novels, and earlier by Henry James, who wrote three masterpieces there, The Wings of a Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl. It is now in the hands of the National Trust.


So romantic, so steep, flanked by thatch and brick and quintessentially English, no wonder Gold Hill was the backdrop for that famous Hovis advertisement (directed by Ridley Scott). It also starred in the 1967 film of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. “The value increases as you go up the hill,” says Sam Lillington of Connells. “There is a Hovis loaf monument at the top and a very good restaurant, The Salt Cellar, with fantastic views over the Blackmore Vale.”

Many houses are bought by weekenders who don’t mind the lack of parking or the sloping gardens. Connells is selling for £235,000 a three-bedroom brick semi at the bottom. On the other side of town it might be worth £35,000 less. At the top of the hill is a museum, and beyond the historic walls that enclose it is Shaftesbury Abbey, built by Alfred the Great.


“Broad Street is without doubt one of Ludlow’s finest addresses,” says Helen Lowery of Strutt & Parker.

For Pevsner it was one of the most memorable streets in England. “At the top,” says Lowery, “is the 18th-century Buttercross, built as a classical town hall. At the bottom is the Broadgate, a medieval gate with an 18th-century castellated house above. Properties on this street are often admired and therefore highly desirable, so tend to sell well and quickly.”

She is currently selling at £300,000 a four-storey building on the street, which has been used as offices but which could be converted into a stylish town house.

The town heaves with shops promoting locally sourced and artisan foods, so you can live like a king on pork pies, black pudding and handmade breads, or eat out in the Michelin-starred restaurants.


A polite Georgian street with the Nicholas Hawksmoor-designed military barracks and parade ground at the top and massive Elizabethan defensive walls at the rear, Ravensdowne represents all the charming contradictions of the town. These days it is utterly gentrified, but over the centuries it has been taken and retaken by the Scots. The massive medieval embankments were the most advanced defensive military technology of the time and are so big you can go for walks on them. Barbara Pentecost of Smiths Gore, who is selling a Grade II-listed house at £225,000, says Ravensdowne attracts a good clutch of ex-clergy, artists and musicians as well as holiday home owners. You can emerge in the morning and sniff sea salt and kippers in the air as you walk along the walls and drink in the view of the Tweed estuary, the beaches, and across to the red-and-white-lighthouse and Lindisfarne in the distance.


Church Hill begins at the Church of St Mary at the top of the hill and drops down to the ford called The Splash at the bottom. Along the way it passes pink thatched cottages and wobbly timber houses before veering off into an elbow called The Green. At the bottom is The Bell Inn, a pub that locals love, and the Church of England primary school, which Ofsted has rated outstanding.

A classic Grade II-listed village house called Green Gables is for sale in The Green, with early 15th-century origins, exposed beams and studwork and gorgeous gardens. “The prettiness of Church Hill carries on into The Green, which is a huddle of cottages,” says Caroline Edwards of Carter Jonas, who is selling Green Gables at £650,000. She says prices here can be more than in the star Suffolk village of Lavenham because it is closer to commuter stations, yet it doesn’t get mobbed by tourists in the same way.


It might be small, but it is extremely smart. The River Test glints with trout while the old Grosvenor Hotel, together with the Houghton Club, the oldest fishing club in the country, front it rather grandly. The Thyme & Tides deli, bistro and fishmonger caters for young trendies who have moved out from London, and the whole place has become a haven for foodies.

Set back from the street is Old Church House, a gem of a converted church with three bedrooms, minstrel’s gallery, office in the garden and decking over the river, being sold by Knight Frank at £1.175 million. “There can’t be many prettier streets than Stockbridge High Street,” says Tom Wood of Knight Frank. “It is surrounded by beautiful countryside with the River Test funnelling through it. There are shops which sell fishing tackle, fine butchers and dealers in game.”


Some of the colour-washed houses in Lower Castle Road have front-row seats to the sea with views towards St Anthony’s Lighthouse and Falmouth Bay. Further along the road is St Mawes Castle, while around the headland is St Just in Roseland church, which Sir John Betjeman described as “the most beautiful on earth”. The seascape is full of locally-built boats tugging in the wind, and crab boats returning with their catch. In summer the passenger ploughs to Falmouth and back.

At The Moorings you cross the road to reach the terraced gardens with steps to the water and the foreshore (which comes with the house). St Mawes is known for Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton and Idle Rocks, which attract the smart set. The Moorings has four bedrooms and is priced by Savills at £2 million. Jonathan Cunliffe, who is handling the sale, says the road commands a premium of 15 per cent to 20 per cent, plus another 30 per cent to 40 per cent at the water’s edge.


The residents of this world-famous address owe their splendid surroundings to two men, John Wood the Elder and his son John Wood the Younger. The Elder, described by Pevsner as “one of the outstanding architects of his day”, had the drive and vision to change his city through classically-inspired architecture. The resulting crescents and squares have made Bath a World Heritage Site.

The Circus was designed by the father who never saw it completed – it was finished by the son between 1755 and 1767. The idea came from the Colosseum in Rome. A recently restored five-bedroom Grade I-listed stone house is on at £4.25 million through Savills. Luke Brady, who is selling, believes the premium for The Circus is 20 per cent above the rest of central Bath.


Spectacularly atmospheric and ancient, this street is a stiff, cobbled climb to Lincoln Cathedral, a one-in-seven gradient at its steepest. It is flanked by Norman houses and clusters of drunken medieval buildings with timbering and half-jetties, all in the shadow of the cathedral. There is a wonderful mix of shops, tea rooms and restaurants, designer boutiques, antiquarian books and antique shops. A four-bedroom house is for sale through Pygott Crone at £314,950.


One of the prettiest towns in the Cotswolds is Burford, on the River Windrush. The view from the top of The Hill is a great treat. The town was ranked sixth in Forbes magazine’s list of “Europe’s most idyllic places to live” and is the setting for Cynthia Harnett’s children’s book The Wool-Pack.

The four-arch medieval bridge and the water meadows haven’t changed in centuries. It was after a visit to the town in 1876 that William Morris rushed off to found the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

On The Hill is The Old Court, which was built as the magistrates’ court in 1869 by William Wilkinson (who is best known for the Randolph Hotel in Oxford). It has four bedrooms, a Grade II listing and is priced at £1  million by Jackson-Stops & Staff.

Full article and credit to The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/buying-selling-moving/11365629/The-prettiest-streets-in-Britain.html

The Small Group Touring Experts