Stratford-upon-Avon is a small market town in the Warwickshire countryside in England. It is also a very famous place. Every year thousands and thousands of people from all over the world travel there to visit the house where William Shakespeare, the English playwright, was born. There are also other important historical sites in the area.
To Damian (4) and Jessica (9) Hayes, Stratford is important for an even better reason—it is their home. They live a short way out of town with their dad and mom, David and Celia Hayes; their two older brothers, Dominic (15) and Russell (11); and their sister, Rebecca (13). Brother Hayes is branch president of nearby Lemington Spa Branch, where Jessica and Damian attend Primary with about eighteen of their friends.
Even though she loves her own home best, Jessica can tell you quite a bit about many of the famous homes in the Stratford area. She and her brothers and sister are happy to show visitors around and explain the significance of each place.
The house where William Shakespeare was probably born and where he spent his early years is located on Henley Street. Carefully restored, it houses items and furniture that are typical of the time when he lived there. Shakespeare wrote many well-known plays, and some of the expressions that we use today come from those plays. Have you ever said that you wouldn’t “budge an inch,” that someone wouldn’t “kill a fly,” or that “there’s something in the wind”? These expressions come from three of Shakespeare’s plays.
About a mile outside of Stratford, at Shottery, is Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Anne was Shakespeare’s wife. Her house stands in an old-fashioned garden and orchard and has a thatched roof. When they visit Anne’s cottage, Jessica and Damian sometimes eat apples that have fallen from the orchard trees.
To the north of Stratford is Warwick Castle. Wax figures of the people who used to live in this castle are found in many of the rooms, so when you visit, you can get a better idea of what life there was like. Damian and Jessica love to climb the spiral stairs to the top of the castle towers. From there they can look out over the town of Warwick and the surrounding countryside. Another feature of the castle that particularly interests them is the dungeon.
Along the streets of Stratford are several small red “houses” that Jessica and Damian point out to their visitors. These are colorful, public telephone booths. Though not of any historical importance, they are vital to the current life of Stratford.
Jessica attends classes at Newburgh School, another place that is important to her. Damian isn’t old enough to go to school yet, but he will be soon. For now, he stays home with Mom, his friends, and his favorite cup with an alligator on it.
The most important home in the area to Jessica and Damian is, of course, their own home. Here they hold family home evening. Here they learn to pray and to obey the gospel teachings. Here Damian plays marbles and gives gymnastics demonstrations on pillows on the living room floor. Here Jessica picks out songs on the piano and practices playing the recorder and the violin. And here they play with, live with, and love their family—to them the most important people ever from Stratford-upon-Avon.