Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire

Flowers for the Bard...

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – died 23 April 1616) is rightly regarded and honoured as the greatest writer of the English language, and as the world's preeminent dramatist. He wrote approximately 38 plays and 154 sonnets, as well as a variety of other poems. Already popular in his own lifetime, Shakespeare became more famous after his death and his work was adulated by many prominent cultural figures through the centuries.He is often considered to be England's national poet and is sometimes referred to as the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard")or the "Swan of Avon".

Holy Trinity Church,

We visited Stratford upon Avon this weekend: this being the season of Shakespeare’s birthday on 23rd April. His grave in the chancel, which is an enormous tourist attraction. The bard was buried there in 1616 an honour bestowed upon him and his family as a “lay rector” of Holy Trinity church on the banks of the Avon. Just above the site on the north wall is a demi-figure bust of William Shakespeare by Gerard Johnson, erected within seven years of his death by his wife and friends. Pevsner states that the monument succeeded in making bard look like a self satisfied school master.This is similar to many other monuments dedicated to scholars and academics from this period, we have a few such memorials here in Oxford. The bust is probably (along with the well known engraved folio portrait) is likely to be the best likeness we have of England’s beloved son. Beneath this wall monument is the actual tomb (this weekend festooned with garlands and flowers from all corners of the earth)…upon it is written the famous curse “Bleste be the man that spares these stones, and curst be he that moves my bones.” Nearby is the old font in which he probably was baptized and the register of births and deaths. Although for most people visiting Shakespeare’s church the grave and the monuments and mementoes are the most important points; it should be said that this chancel is really only second to The Beauchamp chapel at nearby Warwick St Mary, for its dramatic space and magnificence.


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Taken on April 28, 2007