See Shakespeare's England through history

Inspire your family with a journey to England’s past



The earliest Warwick Castle is founded (1,100 years ago this year) by Ethelfleda, Lady of Mercia and daughter of Alfred the Great, who orders the construction of a burh (earthen rampart) to protect her settlement against invasion by the Danes. In 1068 William the Conqueror builds a motte and bailey fort here, and in the 12th century stone replaces wood.

DO IT: Roam the ramparts and romp through 1,100 years of history at Warwick Castle.


The construction of Kenilworth Castle is ordered by royal chamberlain Geoffrey de Clinton; nearly a century later, King John adds stone walls. In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth arrives to be hosted and entertained, before the castle is 'slighted' (destroyed) by parliamentary forces in 1649.

DO IT: Explore the magnificent ruins and look out for special events recreating key events from the castle's tumultuous history, with armed combat, shows and falconry displays.


William Shakespeare, England's finest playwright, is born in Stratford-upon-Avon, probably on 23 April. It's believed his birthplace was at the family home on Henley Street, where his father ran his glovemaking business.

DO IT: See the rooms where the young William and his family ate, worked and slept at Shakespeare's Birthplace, and join in the family-friendly activities during school holidays.


Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway, some eight years his senior.

DO IT: Explore the house where Anne grew up and stroll the garden where the writer courted his wife at Anne Hathaway's Cottage.


Shakespeare dies on 23 April in his home, New Place, in Stratford.

DO IT: Visit the Bard's monument – which bears probably the best likeness – at Holy Trinity Church.


New Place, Shakespeare's grand house in Stratford, is demolished.

DO IT: Visit Nash's House, owned by the husband of Shakespeare's granddaughter, and – during weekends and school holidays – Find out how archaeology works in the family marquee in the garden on the site of New Place.


Healing waters, known by the Romans but long forgotten, are rediscovered by William Abbotts and Benjamin Satchwell at the town that becomes known as Leamington Spa. The town becomes a fashionable health resort, graced by wonderful Georgian architecture. The town was honoured by the granting of the title “Royal” by the young Queen Victoria in 1838

DO IT: Discover the paintings in the Art Gallery and Museum housed in the original Royal Pump Room and Baths, opened two centuries ago in 1814, and join Art Clubs run regularly for kids.


Interest in the playwright's work and life, which has grown enormously since David Garrick established his Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769, leads to the foundation of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which buys the Birthplace and, later, four more of the Shakespeare Family Homes.

DO IT: Travel back in time at the Shakespeare family homes and gardens – experience the sights, sounds and smells of life on a working Tudor farm at William’s grandmother’s house, Mary Arden’s Farm.


Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Ltd Incorporated, forerunner of the Royal Shakespeare Company, is formed. In 1879 the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opens. Following a fire in 1926, the new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (now the Royal Shakespeare Theatre) opens in 1932, and is redeveloped and reopened in 2010. Performances also take place in the intimate Swan Theatre.

DO IT: Join a family tour or workshop, try on costumes or watch a performance at one of the RSC's theatres.


Some of the first British cars are built by John Henry Knight of Farnham and George and Frederick Lanchester in Birmingham.

DO IT: Discover over a century of British automobile innovation at the Heritage Motor Centre, with regular family and educational events.


For more information on planning your visit to Shakespeare's England, explore