Passing through a narrow breach in the wall of Holy Trinity Church graveyard brings you onto a footpath; this runs along the riverbank, with the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre to the left on Southern Lane and the dinky little chain ferry across the Avon to the right. After a short walk you emerge beside the Royal Shakespeare Company’s two main theatres, the Swan and the Royal Shakespeare. There was no theatre in Stratford in Shakespeare’s day and indeed the first home-town festival in his honour was only held in 1769 at the behest of London-based David Garrick. Thereafter, the idea of building a permanent home in which to perform Shakespeare’s works slowly gained momentum, and finally, in 1879, the first Memorial Theatre was opened on land donated by local beer baron Charles Flower. A fire in 1926 necessitated the construction of a new theatre, and the ensuing architectural competition, won by Elisabeth Scott, produced the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a red-brick edifice that has recently been remodelled and extended, its proscenium stage replaced by a thrust stage – to the horror of many and the delight of some. Attached to the main theatre is the Swan Theatre, a replica “in-the-round” Elizabethan stage that has also been refurbished.

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