January 8: Stratford, Sam N.

January 7, 2018
By Sam Nolte,senior bass
Early this morning, we checked out of our hotel in Salisbury and visited the nearby Salisbury Cathedral before heading on the road to Stratford. The cathedral is massive, with some of the most detailed stained glass windows and stonework that you could imagine. It was a shame it was so cloudy in the morning, because seeing the sun shine through those windows would have been a real treat.  We viewed the world’s oldest clock, viewed a flag carried by a local regiment in the War of 1812, which is slowly turning to dust, the Prisoners of Conscience Window, installed early in the twenty-first century, as well as several chantry chapels, and the magnificent quire.  Several of also popped into the Chapter House to see one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta.
After the Cathedral, we began our commute north to Stratford. On the bus, our tour guide, Anita, provides wonderful information about the history and culture of England as we pass different villages and towns. With our long days, it is tempting to try to sleep on the bus to keep as much energy as possible for the sightseeing, rehearsing, and singing that we are doing, but I find that some of my personal favorite moments on tours come from the sights and nature we pass on the drive from place to place. While these sights are not always as flashy or historically significant as the castles and large cathedrals and churches we see in the cities, sometimes the gentle mist covering the rolling green plain out the window can provide just as much awe and excitement.
When we arrived in Stratford, we headed straight to Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Anne was the wife of Shakespeare, and while very little is known about her, she was a centrifugal force in Shakespeare’s life and undoubtedly an inspiration for many of his most lovely works.
Afterwards, we had a quick lunch, and then headed to Shakespeare’s birthplace.  It was amazing to walk around in the places where Shakespeare would have grown up and gained a love for writing. The cottage also had actors stationed around the area, providing better insight on different rooms of the house, such as his sibling’s rooms and the birthing room of Shakespeare himself!
Afterwards, we headed to our hotel to check-in and get ready for the concert.
We are staying at the “Shakespeare Hotel” in Stratford and each room is assigned a different name based on characters and plays from Shakespeare’s catalogue. As an acting major, it was very cool to just be able to search around the hotel and find the different names of rooms and try to guess what the extra special suites were (FYI, I’m pretty sure that they are the Ophelia, Hamlet, and Macbeth rooms, as to be expected).
Our concert was at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford where Shakespeare is buried. The space was massive and our concert was very satisfying. After the concert, we ate a delicious group dinner of fish & chips at the Garrick Inn, Stratford’s oldest pub.
Although it’s only been three days since we’ve arrived in England, I feel a great connection to the people and culture of this country. I’m not experiencing the culture shock I have in other countries. The people are all so welcoming to us and the sights continue to fill us with wonder. I’m looking forward to these next nine days and I hope you continue to read up on the rest of our tour adventures!