The Heart of England

“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England…” King Richard II, William Shakespeare

The great bard, William Shakespeare, was born and died in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Still a market town today, it’s an essential stop on the Shakespeare trail, but also a wonderfully typical English town filled with medieval, timber framed buildings, many of which have picturesque thatched roofs. The town is set on the banks of the River Avon, only a few yards from which you’ll find Holy Trinity Church, where the bard himself rests today. Stratford is less than a half days drive from Bath, and London, and its only an hour away from Oxford.

Otherwise known as the City of Spires, Oxford is best known for its ancient university, which can date its founding to the late 11th century. Today there are over 30 colleges in Oxford, providing higher education to students from around the world. Many of those colleges are open to visitors and some are as stunning as they are ancient. Each with their own chapel and historical dining hall, all covered on their exterior with gothic pinnacles which gives this glorious city its nickname.

Not far from Oxford is Blenheim Palace, the finest work of English Baroque style architecture, with huge grounds and gardens where once trod the likes of Winston Churchill who was born and raised here, and is buried in a nearby church. Also not far away is the pretty village of Bampton, which was used for filming in the popular series, Downton Abbey.