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Museums, Days Out & Attractions

MAGIC ALLEY & THE ENCHANTED MANOR MUSEUM

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Magic Alley
Bell Court
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 290969 

 

I remember the first time I visited Magic Alley. Being a fan of magic, fairytales, the supernatural and general "oddness" I was delighted to discover such a colourful and friendly place existed outside of a Tim Burton or Harry Potter film.

Magic Wands! Retro Toys! Spells! Sweets & Books & Halloween Pumpkins and loads more. But that wasn't all, oh no!  The Enchanted Manor Museum: twelve rooms of magical fun with an atmospherically lit labyrinth of curious exhibits, stories, displays and adventure that made me feel like a kid exploring a spooky mansion in a fantasy world. There were puzzles to solve and clues to follow which earned me a certificate to show I'd graduated from Magic School.

It's also the only museum I've ever been to where you get the chance to read a story as you go round that is both an integral part of the experience and a stand alone story in it's own right.  What's more - there's a different story every 8 or 9 weeks to chose from! An enthralling experience for kids of all ages (and sizes) and well worth a repeat visit.

 

STRATFORD BUTTERFLY FARM

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Stratford Butterfly Farm
Swans Nest Lane
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 299288

 

If you like butterflies, moths, creepy crawlies and insects this is most definitely the place for you.  Kids will love walking through the heated houses that are home to thousands and thousands of fluttering butterflies.  The more "exotic" creatures such as snakes, spiders and scorpions are thankfully kept in glass tanks but it's easy to see their beauty and exotic natures.  We were allowed to pet a millipede and stroke a huge lizard whilst butterflies danced through the air all about us.

The farm is very safe, enjoyable and a great opportunity to see these fascinating creatures in their own environment. Highly recommended to school groups

 

 

THE MAD MUSEUM

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The MAD Museum
4 Henley Street
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 269356

 When you were a child and you visited a museum, you were always told not to touch. At the Mad Museum, the exhibits actually invite you to press buttons, pull levers, turn dials and twist knobs.  The Kinetic nature of the art on display makes for a fun afternoon with the exhibits leaping to life before your eyes. It's ideal for children of all ages and a great way to keep them entertained, especially on a wet afternoon.

Very different and very enjoyable, we loved it!

 

 

SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTHPLACE

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Shakespeare's Birthplace
Henley Street
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 204016 

 

This is the house where William Shakespeare was born, grew up and played. He ate meals in the hall and he slept and dreamt in these rooms. Shakespeare also spent the first five years of married life in this house with his new wife, Anne Hathaway.

For millions of Shakespeare enthusiasts worldwide, the house is a shrine. Discover the world that shaped the man and find out what other famous writers thought when they visited here. Follow in the footsteps of not only Shakespeare, but other well-known visitors such as Charles Dickens, John Keats, Walter Scott and Thomas Hardy.

Shakespeare's Birthplace is a fascinating house that offers a tantalising glimpse into Shakespeare's early world. It's a special place that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime

 

 

HOLY TRINITY CHURCH

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A Church on the banks of the Avon in Stratford is first mentioned in the charter of 845, signed by Beorhtwulf (Bertulf), King of Mercia. This would have been a wooden construction. It is very likely that the Normans replaced this with a stone building but no trace of either remains. The present limestone building was begun in 1210 and was built in the shape of a cross.

The Church is approached along an avenue of lime trees, said to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles.

The porch is one of the more recent additions to the building (ca. 1500 AD) and has a room above it reached by narrow spiral stone staircase. There is a small door let into the massive 15th century doors, just big enough to let one person through at a time. On this is a sanctuary knocker. Fugitives from justice (often lynch-mobs!) could grab the ring and claim 37 days safety before facing trial.

It is of course, also where William Shakespeare is buried...

 

 

HALLS CROFT

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Hall's Croft
Old Town
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 204016

 

Wander through the elegant home of Susanna Shakespeare and her husband, Dr John Hall. Enjoy the luxurious rooms and beautiful decoration of this fascinating house, befitting a wealthy physician of Dr John Hall's status.      

Examine the intriguing collection of apothecary's equipment and books in the doctor's consulting room along with a first edition of his medical notes published in 1657.

You can relax in the beautiful gardens, breathe in the fragrant herbs as used by Dr Hall in his remedies or discover stories of the house's famous past occupants. But whatever you do it's well worth a visit.  In fact, it's my favourite of the Birthplace Properties!

 

 

STRATFORD TOWN WALK

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Stratford Town Walk
Swan Fountain, Waterside
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 292478 

 

Stratford's history is expertly told to you as walk through it's streets. The tour guide was enthusiastic and very knowledgeable, answering all our questions and detailing the history of the Bard's hometown with expert and entertaining delivery. The walk covers many fascinating aspects of the town's history and takes you through its main streets with the guides stories and facts transporting you back in time without the need for pseudo Elizabethan costumes.

The walk is an hour or so long so bring a coat if it's cold!

 

 

STRATFORD GHOST WALK / GHOST CRUISE

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Stratford Town Walk
Swan Fountain, Waterside
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 07855 760377

 

Ghost Walk

A guided walk around ‘haunted’ Stratford with a costumed guide to hear ghost stories, with a little magic. The guides are professional magicians/entertainers.   Booking is necessary, please call 07855 760377 before 6pm.

Every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm, (plus Halloween special on 31 October)  Duration 1 1/2hrs. Adults £6, Child £4.

Ghost Cruise

River cruise with ghostly stories, magic and mind reading.  Centrally heated boat, facilities and a bar to ‘raise the spirits'

 

 

AVON BOATING

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Avon Boating
The Boat House, Swans Nest Lane
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 267073 

 

Avon Boating is one of England's oldest and largest traditional boating companies, offering boats for hire on one of the finest rivers in the country, the Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon.

We operate a fleet of classic Edwardian passenger vessels on regular public cruises from the Bancroft Gardens next to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and offer a variety of private cruises for groups.

From our old boathouse on the edge of the river bank, we hire out rowing boats, punts, and self-drive motor boats for those wanting to explore the further reaches of the river.  

Why not experience a little bit of Venice in Shakespeare's England, and book a romantic gondola ride with us?

 

 

BANCROFT CRUISERS

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Bancroft Cruisers
Bridgefoot
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 269669

 

A daily sightseeing cruise in Stratford-upon-Avon with a bar, cream teas and live commentary

Experience the charm and beauty of historic Shakespeare England with Bancroft Cruisers, Stratford-upon-Avon's only guided sightseeing cruises.

From 45 minute walk-on cruises to private charters, we provide the ultimate river experience complete with expert guides & delicious food

 

 

ANNE HATHAWAYS COTTAGE

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Anne Hathaways Cottage
Cottage Lane, Shottery
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 204016 

 

Enjoy beautiful gardens in Stratford upon Avon. Anne Hathaway's Cottage is a thatched farmhouse with stunning grounds and gardens, which overflow with fragrant blooms and traditional shrubs. The cottage is in Shottery, a hamlet within the parish of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is just over one mile from the town centre and can be accessed via a pleasant, well sign-posted footpath.

See for yourself the many original items of family furniture, including the Hathaway Bed, dating from Anne's time and take in the beauty and tranquillity of the charming cottage gardens

 

 

GO COTSWOLDS - GUIDED TOUR

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Go Cotswolds provide small group day tours of the Cotswolds from Stratford-upon-Avon.

The scheduled guided tours depart every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and offer visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon the opportunity to experience the Cotswolds with a local – taking in many off the beaten track places larger tour companies would not be able to get to or simply wouldn’t know about!

In groups of up to a maximum of 16 the tour visits quintessentially Cotswoldian towns and villages such as Chipping Campden, Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water, as well as sights and beauty spots including Broadway Tower, Dover’s Hill and the Rollright Stones.

Even though the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty starts just 20 minutes away from Stratford, until last July there had not previously been an easy affordable way for tourists to take a day trip of the area without their own transport. Now visitors can easily experience two of England’s most popular destinations as part of the same trip! Day tours cost just £35 per adult, £25 for children under-16 and £95 for a family of four. 

In addition to the scheduled tours out of Stratford-upon-Avon Go Cotswolds also offers private charter tours for groups and by Summer 2015 will be offering special interest trips taking in a variety of different interests and locations around the Cotswolds.

The special interest tours will operate around the regular tour schedule and explore the rich wealth of cultural individuality the Cotswolds has to offer. As well as visiting the traditional locations such as parks, gardens and historic buildings these tours will also take advantage of the growing artisanal food and drink scene in the Cotswolds by exploring pubs, restaurants and food and drink producers located in the area.

For more information on Go Cotswolds or to enquire about a tour please contact Tom Benjamin on 07786920166 or e-mail tom@gocotswolds.co.uk

RSC BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR

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Royal Shakespeare Company
Waterside 
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 0844 800 1110

 

If you love the theatre and have an interest in what goes on behind the scenes to make a successful production, then this tour is a must. The enthusiastic guide took us through the history of the RSC and Swan theatres, telling us all about the fire that destroyed so much of the original architecture and the more recent renovations.  We were told tales of past productions, and saw actors warming up for their matinee performance. There were costumes, props and production photographs to be enjoyed and we were taken through costume and makeup departments as well as backstage. 

The tour guide knew absolutely everything there was to know about every aspect of these wonderful theatres and shared a few humorous and insightful anecdotes with us too.  I highly recommend this enjoyable experience

 

NASH'S HOUSE AND NEW PLACE GARDENS

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Nash's House & New Place
22 Chapel Street
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 204016 

 

Nash's House was named after Thomas Nash, first husband of Shakespeare's granddaughter, and a wealthy local property owner. Today, it is a well preserved Tudor building and the ground floor is furnished as it would have been in Nash's day.

Next door to Nash's House are the foundations of New Place. This was the house bought by William Shakespeare in 1597. By the late 1590s, Shakespeare was an established playwright and had amassed enough wealth to afford a new family home. New Place was the second biggest house in Stratford at the time and it was where Shakespeare lived when he was not in London. He died here in 1616

 

 

MARY ARDEN'S HOUSE AND WORKING TUDOR FARM

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Mary Ardens Farm
Station Road
Wilmcote
 
 T: 01789 204016 

 

Explore the house where Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden, grew up and experience for yourself the daily routine, skills and crafts the young William would have known from visits to his grandparents in the 1570s.

Help with tasks like skep-making and basket- weaving and 'earn your keep' at Palmer's Farm with traditional chores such as threshing, bread-making, gardening and animal-tending.   

Try your hand at have-a-go archery (school and bank holidays) and watch the daily falconry displays.

Enjoy refreshments and light meals served all day in the cafe.

See rare breed animals and explore the nature trails, discovering abundant wildlife including woodpeckers and rabbits along the way

 

 

THE COTSWOLDS DISTILLERY

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The Cotswolds Distillery
Stourton
Shipston on Stour
 
 T: 01608 238533

We believe that our distillery in Stourton, one of the most unspoilt villages in the Cotswolds, is the most beautiful in England. We built the distillery to mirror the beauty of our artisanal spirits, showcasing the rich agricultural terroir of the Cotswolds. We've also made a big investment in the beauty of our land, re-planting native trees, shrubs, flowers and even botanicals to be incorporated into our gin recipes.

Dan, living only a few fields away (and the rest of the team not much further), believes in being a valued member of our local community, committed to being as clean and green as possible, so we’re making certain that our production waste is recycled. The spent grains of barley from our mash go to feed our Cotswold cattle, and the other co-products created by our distilling process will be turned into biogas at a nearby anaerobic digester.

 

We’re located between the historic towns of Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, only 80 miles from London and about 50 miles from Birmingham, perfectly situated to receive guests in our beautiful visitors centre and shop which is open Mon-Sat from 9am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm. We welcome you to visit our distillery for exclusive tour and tasting sessions which are available daily at 1pm. To book, please email tours@cotswoldsdistillery.com

 

Click here to read more about who we are and what we do 

 

 

CHARLECOTE PARK - NATIONAL TRUST

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Very much a family home, the Lucys have lived at Charlecote for 900 years and this connection continues today.

Discover the stories of the family in the house with its striking interiors. Today you can see how Mary Elizabeth and her husband lovingly extended and furnished their home in Victorian times with objects collected from around the world.  The historic kitchen and outbuildings invite you to get hands on and join in with the hustle and bustle of ‘below stairs’ from cooking on the open range to washing in the laundry.

Open all year round visitors can stroll through the picturesque gardens with a colourful parterre overlooking the river Avon and shady woodland garden. The Capability Brown parkland is yours to explore and is perfect for young feet to run uninhibited. Keep a look out for the fallow deer who have roamed the parkland since Tudor times

 

 

COUGHTON COURT - NATIONAL TRUST

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This National Trust property is set in the Warwickshire countryside, Coughton Court is a house full of secrets and intrigue.

Coughton has been home to the Throckmorton family for 600 years, this finest of Tudor houses stands testament to a family’s courage in maintaining their beliefs. From a position of high favour to one of fear and oppression post-Reformation, the Throckmorton’s were leaders in a dangerous age, helping to bring about Catholic emancipation in the 19th century.

Explore this story of fascinating personalities through the ‘family album’ of portraits and Catholic treasures around the house. Coughton is still very much a family home with an intimate feel: the Throckmorton family live here, managing the stunning gardens which they have created.

Learn all about the fascinating stories in the house, find your own quiet corner in the family gardens or join us at one of our many events taking place throughout the year

 

STONELEIGH ABBEY

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Stoneleigh Abbey
Kenilworth
Warwickshire
 
 T: 01926 858535 

 

Stoneleigh Abbey, the ancestral home of the Leigh family, is a country house steeped in history.  Founded in 1154 as a Cistercian monastic house on a land grant from King Henry II, it was later converted into a comfortable family home.

The older portion of the house, built from local red sandstone, was started in 1561 and successive generations added to the design.  The newest part of the house was completed around 1720 and was designed by Francis Smith of Warwick. 

The grounds were landscaped by Humphry Repton in 1809, with additions by Nesfield.  The magnificent Orangery overlooking the River Avon is now a cosy tea room serving light lunches and cream teas.

With connections to Queen Victoria, Prince Charles and Jane Austen, this former monastery is well worth a visit

 

RAGLEY HALL, PARK & GARDENS

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Ragley Hall
Alcester
Stratford upon Avon
 
 T: 01789 762090

 

The magnificent Ragley Hall, at the heart of the Ragley Estate, dates back to 1680 and is open to the public on select dates throughout the year for guided tours of the impressive state rooms which can also be hired exclusively for your dream wedding ceremony and reception.

Memorable, versatile and located in one of the Midland’s most beautiful counties, Ragley Hall is also the perfect venue for corporate and outdoor events.

If a fun family day out is what you’re looking for then Ragley Park really does have something for everyone! Children of all ages will be entertained for hours within our Adventure Wood and 3D maze and with boating on Ragley Lake, an 'Artist in Residence', pony rides and a Woodland Walk; it’s easy to see why Ragley is one of Warwickshire’s most popular family days out.

Whilst visiting, if gardens are your passion then you just have to explore Ragley Gardens. The 10 hectares of ‘Capability’ Brown gardens surrounding Ragley Hall are diverse and display a spectacular array of snowdrops in the winter, tulips and daffodils in the spring and a Rose Garden and Prairie Garden throughout the summer months.

Also look out for the Sculpture Collection which further enhance the Ragley landscape and include sculptures of the Hertford children and even one of a family dog

 

 

STRATFORD ARMOURIES

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Stratford Armouries is a truly unique museum set in 75 acres of rolling Warwickshire countryside.

The galleries house a range of world-class exhibits that will amaze the whole family including:

* Home to the National Collection of Model Soldiers
* The home of the Wellington Aviation Museum
* A huge German Heinkel 111 crash relic
* 20th Century Gallery with Military and Aviation Exhibits
* Leonardo da Vinci’s giant crossbow
* Beautiful artefacts from Shakespeare’s birthplace

The Stratford Armouries are currently exhibiting an incredible collection of miniature soldiers. The collection of several thousand figures, horses, weapons and dioramas, which is believed to be the biggest of its kind in existence, has been loaned to the museum by the British Model Soldier Society and is housed within several glass cabinets in the main hall of the museum.

 

 

BADDESLEY CLINTON - NATIONAL TRUST

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Enjoy the fresh air on our estate walks, treat yourself to lunch or afternoon tea in our new look Barn Restaurant, see the seasons change in the gardens, visit the beautiful moated manor house, browse in our gift shop or simply find a quiet spot and relax. With all this and a varied events programme, Baddesley is truly a place to come back to.

The magic of the moat, the stories of priest hunters and the freedom of the surrounding countryside means there’s something for everyone. A bit of imagination goes a long way – you can take part in seasonal activities or you can explore and find your own fun.

FARNBOROUGH HALL - NATIONAL TRUST

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Nestled in the heart of rural Warwickshire, surrounded by elegant lakes and fine landscape gardens sits Farnborough Hall. Made from the locally quarryed Horton honey-coloured stone, this country house shimmers in the sunlight.

Inside, the finest 18th-century plasterwork, depicting natural beauty and wildlife, adorns the interiors. On your way around you'll spot many treasures that were collected during the Grand Tour, as well as sentimental family items and photographs.

KINWARTON DOVECOTE - NATIONAL TRUST

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A lovely and rare 14th-century circular dovecote with metre-thick walls, hundreds of nesting holes and original rotating ladder, nestled in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside.

When you visit Kinwarton Dovecote make the most of your day by visiting nearby Coughton Court, a Tudor house set in beautiful grounds, which is roughly a ten minute drive from the dovecote.

PACKWOOD HOUSE - NATIONAL TRUST

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The culmination of a lifetime of dreams: salvaged objects and exotic pieces come together in a Jacobean meets Edwardian style. 

The house was originally built in the 16th century, yet its interiors were extensively restored between the First and Second World Wars by Graham Baron Ash to create a fascinating 20th century evocation of domestic Tudor architecture.

Find peace and quiet in the stunning gardens and relax among the beautiful borders. Lose yourself in the Yew Garden or visit the newly restored 18th century gentleman’s Kitchen Garden and pick up some ideas for your own plot.

UPTON HOUSE & GARDENS - NATIONAL TRUST

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Upton House & Gardens
Nr Banbury
Oxfordshire
 
 T: 01295 670266

 

Stepping inside the house you'll find yourself surrounded by Lord Bearsted’s internationally important art and porcelain collections, with works by artists such as Canaletto, Stubbs and Hogarth. Delve deeper and you’ll discover what life was like at Upton in 1938 – read about Lord Bearsted’s passion for art as well as his support for the local community and Jewish causes in Europe.  Discover how the family made their fortune in the Squash Court Gallery exhibition Shell and the Art of Advertising.

Lady Bearsted was passionate about developing the gardens with designed Kitty Lloyd Jones. The sweeping lawn gives way to a series of terraces and herbaceous borders leading to a mirror pool.  There is a kitchen garden, a tranquil bog garden, spring bulb displays and National Collection of Aster, flowering in late September.

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE 

SNOWSHILL MANOR & GARDENS - NATIONAL TRUST

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Snowshill Manor is a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade

Inside these rooms you can discover this eclectic collection that he restored and displayed. We have maintained the atmospheric settings he created with low lighting and few labels. From tiny toys to Samurai armour, musical instruments to fine clocks, thousands of objects are laid out for you to see just as Mr Wade intended.

The garden is the perfect place to unwind and explore hidden vistas, quiet corners and unexpected delights including Charles Wade’s uncomplicated home, the Priest’s House.

“Let nothing perish” was his motto, and his life was dedicated to doing just that. From the everyday to the extraordinary, you can discover his passion for craftsmanship, colour and design.

 Not Just Shakespeare is Stratford's only independent and impartial tourist information service and has been providing a completely free tourist information service since early in 2010. We are completely independent and receive no support or funding from Stratford Town Council, Stratford District Council, Shakespeare's England or Stratforward BID placing us in a unique position to provide an unrivalled honest and impartial service.  If you make a booking from information garnered from this website, please mention us when booking.  Thank you.

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