Day 2. Stratford-upon-Avon and the British Motor Museum

After a wonderful night’s sleep in our gorgeous room at the Hotel Indigo we popped downstairs to discover what was in store for us at breakfast.  This takes place in the light and airy Feasting Room where we found a huge refectory table laid out with a vast array of cold breakfast options.

Breakfast table, Hotel Indigo, Stratford-upon-Avon
The breakfast table in the hotel’s Feasting Room

We helped ourselves to bowls of fresh fruit and yoghurt and then ordered cooked breakfasts and cappuccinos at the table.  Both my eggs Benedict and my husband’s full English were cooked to perfection and after a second cup of coffee we were ready to face the day ahead.

Riverside walk Stratford-upon-Avon
Taking an early morning riverside walk

It was a sunny morning so we decided to take a stroll along the riverside, just a few minutes walk from the hotel.  We followed a riverside path along the side of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RSC) passing Holy Trinity Church where both William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are laid to rest.

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

Just beyond the church we needed to leave the riverside for a short distance along Mill Lane before re-joining the path slightly further along.  Soon we came to a weir and a lock and beyond there a bridge which we crossed to reach the other bank.  We then returned to the scenic Bancroft Gardens in the centre of Stratford in good time to take a 30 minute boat trip with Avon Boating.

Avon Boating river cruise boat Stratford-upon-Avon
One of the Avon Boating river cruise boats

Pleasure boat cruises along the River Avon cost £8 and tickets can be bought on board.  It was such a pleasant morning to be on the river and we enjoyed the views as we sailed downstream past the RSC theatre and the church before turning round and continuing upstream passing under the 15th century arched Clopton Bridge.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Along this tranquil stretch of river we glimpsed secluded riverfront homes with their beautiful gardens leading down to the waterside.

Avon Boating River Cruise, Stratford-upon-Avon
Enjoying our tranquil cruise along the River Avon

Although no live commentary takes place, audio guides are available which provided us with an insight into points of interest as we passed by.  We found taking the boat trip a lovely way to spend some time as it was very relaxing and provided a different perspective of the town from the water.

Shakespeare's School Room and Guildhall, Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s School Room and Guildhall

Following our boat trip we wandered back through the town centre to visit Shakespeare’s School Room and Guildhall on Church Street.  The school is conveniently located opposite the Hotel Indigo where we were staying but we had been unable to visit there first as it does not open until 11.00 a.m.  Standard tickets £12.50.

Classroom at Shakespeare's School Room
Inside the classroom where Shakespeare was educated

Stepping indoors we discovered where Shakespeare was educated and sat at a desk in the very classroom where he was a pupil in the 1570’s.  Here, we participated in a Tudor schoolroom lesson that was led by a stern schoolmaster dressed in period robes.

Schoolmaster at Shakespeare's School Room
Our stern school master at Shakespeare’s School Room

It was both interesting and fun as I dipped my quill pen into an inkwell and engaged in some handwriting practice.  I’m not used to quill pens but do sometimes write with a fountain pen and to my delight was awarded an A* for my efforts!

Writing with a quill pen at Shakespeare's School Room Stratford-upon-Avon
Practising my skills with a quill pen

We then moved into the Guildhall which has undergone major restoration work.  During these repairs a series of rare medieval wall paintings were unearthed that had been hidden for centuries.

Medieval wall painting, Shakespeare's School Room, Stratford-upon-Avon
One of the Medieval wall painting that had been unearthed during renovation work

There was much more to experience than I had expected and I would allow around 90 minutes for a visit as this engaging visitor experience includes two short films, interactive displays and knowledgeable guides.  There’s even an opportunity to dress up in the classroom if you wish.

Guild Chapel next door to Shakespeare's School Room
Guild Chapel next door to Shakespeare’s School Room

Before lunch we headed to the Guild Chapel on the corner of Chapel and Church Street.  The church was constructed in the 13th century by the Guild of the Holy Cross, at that time a prominent social and religious organisation central to life in the town.  The chapel is noted for its rare medieval wall paintings which along with the adjacent school room have been rediscovered by the removal of layers of lime wash.

The Coach House, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Coach House, Stratford-upon-Avon

It was then time for a spot of lunch so we popped into The Coach House on Rother Street, an historic pub that has recently been refurbished.  The morning sunshine had sadly disappeared and it had turned chilly so rather than sitting out in the garden terrace we found a table indoors in the cosy snug.  We both ordered steak sandwiches with side salads which were extremely tasty filled with generous slices of medium rare beef that melted in our mouths.

Lunch at the Coach House, Stratford-upon-Avon
Lunch at the Coach House, Stratford-upon-Avon

After our relaxing lunch break we wandered back to the hotel to collect our luggage and say goodbye to the friendly front of house staff.  Our short break wasn’t quite over though as after packing up the car we drove the short distance to the British Motor Museum located 20 minutes away in Gaydon.  The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of historic British cars.  Admission £14.50 in advance or £16 on the day (tickets are valid for unlimited return visits within a 12 month period.

Vehicles on display at the British Motor Museum,
Vehicles on display at the British Motor Museum,

This vast museum is home to more than 400 British classic cars to celebrate the past, present and future of British motoring.  The collection tells the story of the motor car and over a hundred years of its industry in the West Midlands.  Free guided tours are available at certain times of day and either joining one of these or wandering around on your own it’s fascinating.

Motorsport collection at the British Motor Museum
Part of the motorsport collection on display in the museum

The museum is divided into two large buildings, the main one takes visitors through a series of displays each depicting aspects of British motoring history.  We began our self guided tour along the Time Road documenting a century of motoring history beginning in 1896 and telling the story of how motoring has changed over the years from the roads we use to the vehicles we travel in.  Fun facts include when Cat’s Eyes were first introduced and when the first driving test was taken.

Design and Concepts display at the British Motor Museum
The Design and Concepts display

The Design and Concepts section contains a unique display of prototype vehicles which never quite made it into production.  There’s also sports cars including models from Jaguar, Morgan, Lotus, Triumph, McLaren and Aston Martin.  The Land Rover display is dominated by a man made mountain designed to show off its off road capabilities.  Other displays include Royal cars, record breakers, film and TV vehicles and a period display of a 1930’s garage and the office of the car magnate William Morris.

Sports cars on display at the British Motor Museum
The display of sports cars

Across the car park visitors also have access to the Collections Centre which houses approximately 200 vehicles from the reserve collection.  As this section is not technically a museum, the cars are arranged in rows with limited information about each vehicle.  It’s definitely worth visiting though with its displays including the first and last cars off the production lines and a wide selection of Jaguar and Daimler models.

Cars on display in the Collections Centre of the British Motor Museum
Cars on display over in the Collections Centre

From the upper floor visitors are able to look down from a viewing gallery to observe a behind the scenes insight into how the cars are stored and preserved, watching restoration work underway.

Restoration viewing gallery, British Motor Museum
Viewing gallery of restoration work taking place at the British Motor Museum

Visiting the British Motor Museum is a great day out for the entire family with children able to pick up a booklet and complete a Road Map Trail on their way around which is both fun and educational.  There’s so much to see that I’m sure I’ll be returning before too long to see more and as it’s so conveniently situated just one mile from Junction 12 of the M40 motorway.

Road Map Trail activity book, British Motor Museum
The Road Map Trail activity book for children

That concluded our short break in beautiful Stratford and the surrounding area and what a lovely time we’d had following in the footsteps of Shakespeare, touring a distillery, taking a scenic boat trip on the River Avon, visiting a Butterfly Farm and rounding off our trip at the British Motor Museum.  Staying at the Hotel Indigo had been lovely too and couldn’t have been better placed as it was located in the heart of the town with its own car park.

Hotel Indigo, Stratford-upon-Avon
Hotel Indigo in the town centre

During our stay we were guests of Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare’s England and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

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Stratford upon Avon & The British Motor Museum

 

34 thoughts on “Day 2. Stratford-upon-Avon and the British Motor Museum

    1. I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading this post Andy. Following Shakespeare’s footsteps around Stratford-upon-Avon is a delight and I think everyone would love visiting the motor museum even if they only think of cars as a way of getting from one place to another. Thanks for reading and commenting Andy and hope you have a good week ahead.

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  1. I have to say that the breakfast table in the hotel’s Feasting Room looks quite amazing, Marion! the British Motor Museums look like a massive place with lots to see car-wise and easy to waste a few learning about the UK car industry history. I am not a ‘petrol head’ but would love to stop by if I am ever in the area. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. The breakfast spread is quite something at the Indigo! The British Motor Museum is superb with so many vehicles and associated memorabilia to view. The Road Map Trail for children is cleverly designed and certain to keep children entertained by looking for things as they go round. Thanks for commenting Aiva, it’s much appreciated.

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    2. We went last September and got round the first building, and have just been back to get round the second one. Being a 50-minute journey, away we were very happy to find that we could do that for the price of a single ticket each.

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  2. Ah we have to do this one day, the whole Shakespeare trail. Love that you can visit his old classroom… the history within those four walls! I didn’t know that Stratford-upon-Avon is home to The British Motor Museum… fantastic!

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    1. I’m sure you would enjoy visiting Stratford and spending time visiting all the properties he was associated with and his schoolroom. The British Motor Museum is superb and just a 20 minute drive frro m the town. There’s so much to see that I’d like to return sometime. Hope things are going well for you both.

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  3. What a delightful experience the old schoolroom must have been! I love that they have a stern school master giving lessons and that you could write on that big solid desk with a quill in hand! And the motor museum looks so fun and interesting to see all the decades of motoring laid out like that. A wonderful post to begin the week with 🙂

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    1. Thank you Meg. Visiting Shakespeare’s old school room was a splendid experience and fortunately I didn’t spill ink over myself whilst dipping the pen in the inkwell. The British Motor Museum is extremely interesting too and fascinating to see the changes in car design over the years.

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  4. Taking a boat tour definitely sounds like a relaxing way to spend the morning and it’s a neat way to see a different side of the city. It’s crazy to see how much cars have changed over time. They also make cars very differently in Europe compared to here in North America.

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  5. Thank you! I was there with my son some years ago. We only had half a day, though good weather, and your post makes me realize how much more there is to see. I hope to return with my wife, and I think we’ll stay in town as you did.

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  6. Lovely views on your riverside walk, as well as your cruise along the River Avon … that’s a perfect way of starting a morning! Ah, and congrats with your A* – I’m sure Shakespeare would have been proud of you 😉. Wow, the British Motor Museum looks impressive – certainly worth a stop! Thanks for another informative post Marion … as always, a visit I enjoyed through your eyes.

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    1. It was another lovely day spent in and around Stratford Corna. The short river cruise was very relaxing and our school room writing experience interesting and fun. Visiting the British Motor Museum was a real treat and I’d like to return sometime for another look. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated.

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  7. I’m not a huge car/motor enthusiast, but that museum looks very expansive and worth checking out! Visiting the place where Shakespeare went to school must’ve been a surreal experience, especially since this is where Shakespeare learned to write (and later wrote masterpieces in English literature) The food you had at The Coach House looks divine, and I’m all for having a tender, melt-in-your-mouth steaks! Another wonderful time in Stratford-upon-Avon. 🙂

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    1. It was such an interesting day Rebecca filled with varied activities from our river boat trip to visiting Shakespeare’s school room and sitting at one of the desks he would have used. Our lunchtime steak sandwiches were very tasty and exploring the motor museum fascinating. Thanks for your interest and your ever welcome thoughts.

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    1. Thank you for taking an interest in this post Julie and for your welcome thoughts. Stratford-upon-Avon is such a wonderful place to visit and we enjoyed being there very much. The British Motor Museum is vast and so very interesting with free guided tours offered too!

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  8. Another interesting post! We will probably never get to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, so we have enjoyed following you on your travels. We wonder, are Shakespeare and his wife entombed inside the Holy Trinity church or are they buried in its cemetery? Of particular interest to me (Kellye) were the ghostly Medieval figures peering out of the wall of the classroom. Very intriguing and what a find. Stratford-upon-Avon looks like a wonderful destination: peaceful and uncrowded with lots of natural beauty and a navigable river. We don’t have those kinds of rivers where we live, so we are a bit envious! By your photos, it appears that you had nice weather to compliment your visit. We are looking forward to your next post. Thank your sharing!

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    1. Thank you for your continued interest in this series of posts on Stratford. In answer to your question, both Shakespeare and his wife are buried in the chancel within the Holy Trinity church. Stratford-upon-Avon is a delightful town and as well as following in Shakespeare’s footsteps there is much of interest for an enjoyable stay.

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    1. Stratford-upon-Avon is beautiful both in the centre and by the riverside. I hope you get a chance to visit sometime. The man stood with the umbrella in my photo of the Motor Museum was actually real! I just thought he was stood in the perfect spot for a photo opportunity!! Thanks so much for your interest in this post and for your ever welcome thoughts Lyssy.

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  9. So much to see in that motor museum. As a member of various Bradford based Facebook groups I often see reference to the locally made Jowett cars. So I’m sure they had some on display. And I love the vehicles sitting on top of replica Dinky boxes in the design section. Quite a contrast to the earlier part of your day, which looked wonderful too.

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    1. Our morning in Stratford visiting Shakespeare’s schoolroom and taking a leisurely river boat trip contrasted well with exploring the British Motor Museum. It holds such a big collection that I’m certain I’ll be back there again before too long. Thank you for taking an interest Gwen and your welcome thoughts.

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