Our first stop this morning was Coventry. Legend has it, in the 11th century, Lady Godiva asked her husband to reduce taxation on his tenants. He sarcastically told her that he would reduce taxes if she rode horseback naked down the streets of Coventry. So, Lady G did. Since the tenants appreciated and respected her, no one watched. They shuttered up their houses and give her privacy…except for one. Peeping Tom looked and he turned to stone.
In more recent history, Coventry was severely bombed during WWII. The ruins of the medieval cathedral sits aside the new modern cathedral Not only has the town weaved the original look into the new church, they have embraced peace as their mission. Seeing both churches and understanding the level of forgiveness is powerful.
From coventry, we went to Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was born in a fairly nice house. His father was a councillor for the town and was also making some money through shady dealings. When he was found out, the family went into financial ruin and moved. We also saw the preserved thatched house where Anne Hathaway grew up. Anne was the wife of Shakespeare and mother of his three kids.
Stratford is on the Avon River. There are plenty of shoppes and restaurants in the town. Since it was Sunday, there was an open market along the river bank. Rowboats for rent had Shakespeare’s characters’ names: Puck and Rosalind. Right off the river, his statute was erected in 1888. Four of his most famous characters: Falstaff, Lady MacBeth, Hamlet and Prince Hal, encircle him. The bronze sculptures took ten years to make and have intricate detail.
We took a roadtrip for tea in the countryside. The drive through Cotswald was lovely. A small village occasionally pops up on the road. The matching houses are all built out of the local stone. In one town, they are all out of the same stone but different centuries in history was apparent. The English countryside is gentle, sloping greenery. The roads are narrow and lined with hedgerows. Wild flowers and flower gardens give the area colorful beauty. The ride, aside from a dicey face-off with another tourist bus, was just lovely.
We had tea in Quinton at College Arms. It has been a pub since the 16th Century. Henry the VIII gifted the pub and grounds to the college. It’s the only pub that officially is allowed to hang its own arms. For the last eight years, College Arms has been owned by a son and mother. The son gave us a heartfelt welcome. I believe scones and tea just taste better in a well-established joint of several centuries.
In the evening, Jenny and I decided to pass on the free bus tour buffet. Instead, we headed to the Dirty Duck. It’s where the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company hang. The quaint place is covered in headshots of actors. We spied a young Ben Kingsley above the bartenders head. Our neighboring diners had brought their two dogs: Marbles and Squiggles. They warned us not to make eye contact with their friendly dogs. I couldn’t help it! Marbles, a white retriever, reminded me of my dog niece Trixie.