In the 16c-17c a prosperous and proud market town, Stratford today serves a vibrant contemporary community imbued with dignified pride in its unique cultural heritage. Laid out on a medieval grid street plan in 1196, Stratford’s carefully maintained identity represents a brilliantly conceived living tribute to William Shakespeare, Britain’s finest wordcraftsman. With its many ancient black-and- white timber-framed buildings and beautifully designed Elizabethan gardens, it is the perfect place for our second in-depth Shakespeare cultural study experience. Dropping anchor once again at the 18c Arden Hotel on Waterside, we will be well placed beside the river basin well known to Shakespeare. Directly opposite are the Royal Shakespeare Theatres where we shall attend superb productions of two of the greatest of Shakespeare’s Roman plays- one early play, Julius Caesar, and one late, Antony and Cleopatra. Both concern the desperate manoeuvres characterising the political dynamic of ancient Rome, Shakespeare’s well-chosen paradigm for the political and social machinations of his time- Lord Burghley brooking no interference in his policies, Francis Walsingham hiring assassins to protect the state, Christopher Marlowe’s stabbing in a Deptford alley, while Sir Thomas Gresham wheeled and dealt on the Antwerp foreign exchanges and Sir Francis Drake ruthlessly expanded the British Empire. Back-stabbings and flagrant lies, betrayals and deceits, abrupt resignations and sackings were familiar fodder then and now. So it is with uncanny topicality, if not prescience, that the RSC has chosen to present Shakespeare’s Roman plays in Stratford this coming spring and summer season. Much needed light relief will be provided by our third and concluding play, ‘The Hypocrite’ by Richard Bean (of One Man Two Guvnors fame) which treats similar events- beheadings and civil war- as riotous comedy! To extend our Shakespearian studies, we have arranged private visits to particular houses that reveal either architecture Shakespeare would have known, as in the remarkable 15c Lord Leycester’s Hospital in Warwick, and Kenilworth, where we see a castle that would have been in Shakespeare’s mind in the writing of the history plays; or that reveal the influence of Shakespeare’s time on later generations. At Charlecote Park, where Shakespeare legendarily poached deer from Sir Thomas Lucy, we see a Victorian idea of Shakespearian England, and at privately-owned Ilmington Manor, how Shakespearian England was interpreted in the 1920s.

COST £1995 Members, £2045 non-Members, £220 single room supplement, £250 deposit, includes five nights accommodation with breakfast, four coffees, six lunches with wine, six dinners with wine, all lectures by Nicholas Friend, three theatre tickets, all private visits and all travel during the tour, VAT, tips and service. Excludes travel to and from Stratford.