Firstly we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and give you the opportunity to WIN a night to stay at Avonlea.

Those who have received our Christmas e-mail before will know that each year rather than weighing down the posties bag we send an e-mail instead and make a donation to a charity with the money we would have spent on cards, presents and postage. We feel this is not only better for the environment but also helps out some worthwhile causes. This year we have decided that the chosen charity with be Shakespeare Puppies.

Shakespeare Puppies is a group of volunteers for Guide Dogs. Most of them are “Puppy Walkers” – they have Guide Dog puppies living with them from 7 weeks old, until they go into training at 13 – 15 months.

The Shakespeare’s Puppies Appeal was launched on April 25th 2013 in the RSC gardens, Waterside, by James Roe MBE, Stratford’s own Paralympian Gold Medalist, and Councilor Keith Lloyd, the Mayor of Stratford with the aim of raising the funds to name Guide Dog Puppies after Shakespeare characters.

To date, 10 puppies have been named after Shakespeare by raising the £5000 it costs to train the puppies.

Now to the bit where you can WIN a night at Avonlea. We have set up a JustGiving page and for everyone who is kind enough to make a donation to Guide Dogs via this page, we will enter you into a prize draw to win a night at Avonlea. We would like a minimum donation of £2 and for each multiple of £2 you will get another entry into the draw. So if you donated £10 you would get 5 entries.

We hope you do not find this request for a donation rude. We just feel that it is a fun way to raise some money for a fantastic cause. Here is the link to the JustGiving page if you would like to join in the fun. Last enteries for the draw will be 31st December 2015 and we will announce the winner in the next Avonlea newsletter.

Good luck and once again Merry Christmas and a proserous new year.

Rob & Clare

Welcome to the new Avonlea newsletter. As you might notice we have updated our website and with this we have decided to make sure we do a newsletter monthly to keep you updated with what is happening at Avonlea as well as in and around Stratford.

At the beginning of this year we refurbished bathrooms 1 & 2 and they look fantastic, we have now just started to do the same to rooms 3, 4 & 5. It is amazing the extra space we are finding for the showers they are nearly doubling in size! We will be posting some pictures in the New Year when the work is complete.

We are also upgrading the televisions in all the bedrooms when we are closed over the Christmas period and all of the work will be done for the start of 2016 when we reopen at the beginning of February.

Although we will be closed from the middle of December until the beginning of February we will still be here taking bookings for 2016, so if you have not booked in for your trips next year many dates are getting busy so please get in touch.

During February and March we will be offering 10% off your total bill when booking 3 or more consecutive nights, based on our standard rates and not including any other discounts.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Avonlea soon.

Many thanks

Rob & Clare

With the average price of a bottle of wine in UK supermarkets at £7.71 – did you know that you can get from London to Stratford Upon Avon for less than this at just £6 per person each way?

If you are planning a trip to see what Stratford Upon Avon has to offer, it need not be as expensive as you think. With travel from London from just £12 per couple and a double room with us from just £75 per night, a weekend staying in Shakespeare’s home town is very affordable.

There is a direct Chiltern Railways service that departs from London Marylebone and will get you to Stratford in between 2 and 2 ½ hours. It is only the direct Chiltern service that this great price is available for. If you decide to go via Birmingham it is more like £50 per person each way. Also don’t just turn up at the station without a ticket expecting to travel for £6 as fares on the Chiltern service on the day are travel are £30.

The trick is to book in advance….. but not too far. The special price advance rail fares get released 8-12 weeks before travel. Fortunately the Train Line has a handy email notification system. Put in the date(s) you would like to travel and they will e-mail when the advance fares become available.  If you are booking a return journey it as also best to book two singles as they do not seem to do the same discount on the combined return tickets.

These advance fares are not just available for London to Stratford Upon Avon but many other journeys in the UK. If you do a couple of dummy searches for they journey you wish to take for about 8 weeks ahead you will get an idea of what should be available for you when tickets are released.

Another thing to bear in mind is that even if you are organising a last minute trip to Stratford, if you book your tickets just the day before travelling, big discounts might still be available.

We also have some fantastic discount vouchers for our guests who stay with us – from 50% off at the Shakespeare Houses to 2 for 1 Warwick Castle tickets. If you let us know your plans when you arrive we will do our best to help you make the most of your time and money when visiting Stratford Upon Avon.

We look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon.

Don’t forget our special offers:

Stay 3 nights including a Sunday and receive 50% off the Sunday night.

Stay 4 or more nights and receive £5 off per night.


We are now taking bookings for winter 2015, Below is the RSC season guide. This year we will be closed from Friday 4th December reopening as the end of January. In this time we will be refurbishing 3 more bathrooms so by 2016 we will have been completed rooms 1-5. We look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon.

  • RSC marks 600th anniversary of Agincourt and continues Shakespeare’s Histories with Gregory Doran’s production of Henry V, also screened ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ to cinemas and schools
  • Jonathan Munby’s acclaimed production of Ella Hickson’s Wendy & Peter Pan returns to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
  • Two new plays premiere in the Swan Theatre – Hecuba by Marina Carr, directed by Erica Whyman, and Queen Anne by Helen Edmundson, directed by Natalie Abrahami
  • Congreve’s Love for Love – first RSC staging of this glorious Restoration Comedy, directed by Selina Cadell


Henry V, directed by Gregory Doran – 12 September to 25 October 2015 (and ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ – 21 October 2015)

Press Night: Tuesday 22 September 7pm 

The Winter 2015 season in the main house opens with Henry V, the fourth in the series of Shakespeare’s History Plays directed by Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.

Alex Hassell, who played Prince Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II, becomes King Henry V, the monarch who led England to victory in the Battle of Agincourt. The production marks the 600th anniversary of the battle, which took place on 25 October 1415. It will be designed by RSC Director of Design, Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Paul Englishby and sound by Martin Slavin.

It will also be screened live to cinemas worldwide on 21 October 2015 as part of the RSC’s ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ series, with Picturehouse Entertainment, and streamed free of charge into schools across the UK, with supporting education materials and a live pre- and post-show interactive discussion with students. International encore dates will be announced later.

As part of the RSC’s events programme to get closer to Shakespeare and the world of the RSC, the Stage Fight Club is launched. This will be a fun informal 10 week class for over 18s from 23 September, run by RSC Associate Practitioner and Stage Combat Instructor, Tom Jordan.

Henry V is supported by The Mark Pigott KBE family

Wendy & Peter Pan – by Ella Hickson, adapted from the novel by JM Barrie, directed by Jonathan Munby – 17 November 2015 to 31 January 2016

Press Night: Wednesday 25 November 7pm 

Ella Hickson’s retelling of JM Barrie’s much loved book, Wendy & Peter Pan, is revived for family audiences at the end of the year. This critically acclaimed and spectacular production played to packed houses in 2013 and will be revived with the original set and costumes. It will be directed, as before, by Jonathan Munby, designed by Colin Richmond and lit by Oliver Fenwick.

There will be a Relaxed Performance on 28 January 2016, specially designed for children and young people with autism, learning disabilities and sensory and communication disorders, and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment.

By popular demand, Davy and Kristin McGuire’s magical ‘Sprite Symphony’ exhibition also returns this winter, bringing a Victorian specimen cabinet to life, with fairies fluttering throughout the building.


Hecuba by Marina Carr, directed by Erica Whyman – 17 September to 17 October 2015

Press Night: Thursday 24 September 7pm 

Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, continues the RSC’s commitment to explore questions of gender and power which the Company ignited with the ‘Roaring Girls’. This searing new commission by Marina Carr explores war, womanhood and regime change.

Troy has fallen. Humiliated by her defeat and imprisoned by the charismatic victor Agamemnon, the great queen Hecuba must wash the blood of her buried sons from her hands and lead her daughters forward into a world they no longer recognise. Agamemnon has slaughtered his own daughter to win this war, but another sacrifice is now demanded. In a world where human instinct has been ravaged by violence, is everything as it seems in the hearts of the winners and those they have defeated?

Marina Carr reimagines Euripides’ Hecuba through many voices in a visceral new play. This is the second she has written for the RSC, following her two-hander The Cordelia Dream, performed as part of the Company’s residency at Wilton’s Music Hall in London in 2008/9. Marina’s best known play is By the Bog of Cats (Abbey, Dublin and Wyndham’s Theatre, London). Her awards include the Irish Playwright Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award.

Love for Love, by William Congreve, directed by Selina Cadell – 28 October 2015 to22 January 2016

Press Night: Wednesday 4 November 7pm 

This will be the first production of this play by the RSC and only the second Congreve play ever to be performed by the Company. Love for Love is a glorious Restoration comedy, where love for love is stronger than love for money.

Valentine, Sir Sampson’s dissolute eldest son, finds himself at a standstill; the only way out of his financial difficulties is to give in to his father’s pressure to sign over his right of inheritance to his younger brother. Seeing a chance to escape his debtors, Valentine accepts the deal, but, fearing he will now be spurned by his beloved Angelica, takes drastic action to ensure he retains what is rightfully his. Selina Cadell makes her RSC directorial debut with this production, after directing The Rivals at the Arcola Theatre last year. Tom Piper will design the set, Rosalind Ebbutt, the costumes, Vince Herbert, the lighting, and sound will be by Claire Windsor.

Queen Anne by Helen Edmundson, directed by Natalie Abrahami – 19 November 2015 to 23 January 2016

Press Night: Thursday 26 November 7pm 

After her acclaimed new play, The Heresy of Love, premiered in the Swan Theatre in 2012, Helen Edmundson was commissioned by the RSC to write this gripping play about the relationship between Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough.

1702. William III is on the throne and England is on the verge of war. Princess Anne is soon to become Queen and her advisors vie for influence over the future monarch. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, a close friend with whom Anne has an intensely personal relationship, begins to exert increasing pressure as she pursues her own designs on power. Contending with deceit and blackmail, Anne must decide where her allegiances lie, and whether to sacrifice her closest relationships for the sake of the country.

Natalie Abrahami is an Associate Director at the Young Vic and Associate Artist at Hull Truck Theatre and was joint Artistic Director at the Gate in London from 2007 to 2012. She makes her RSC directing debut with this production.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said: 

“Our winter season pits love against war. We mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt with Henry V, continuing our journey through Shakespeare’s History Plays and exploring Prince Hal’s new-found power and responsibility as King of England, following the death of his father, King Henry IV.

“Taking a look at conflict through other eyes, we have commissioned Marina Carr to write a play about the defeated queen, Hecuba, wife of King Priam of Troy and mother of Hector, Paris and Cassandra. Erica Whyman will direct this re-imagining of Euripides’ great tragedy, which considers what price we are prepared to pay for victory.

“We will follow this in the Swan Theatre with two fascinating plays, celebrating the 18th Century. First is the extraordinary story of another queen, Queen Anne, and her very close relationship with the Duchess of Marlborough. Helen Edmundson weaves a tale of secrets and intrigue in her new play, directed by Natalie Abrahami.

“Queen Anne will play in repertoire with William Congreve’s Love for Love, directed by Selina Cadell. We have never performed this before – and indeed have only ever staged one Congreve play. I am delighted we continue to use the Swan stage to bring lesser-known classics to a contemporary audience.

“I am also very pleased that we are finally getting underway with the reinstatement of The Other Place. We are delighted to have been awarded an Arts Lottery grant of £3m. Thanks to this generous grant and the support of a number of key donors, we aim to reopen The Other Place as part of our 2016 programme, marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. We have also announced a new collaboration with the University of Birmingham and their Shakespeare Institute. We have had a long and happy association with the Institute and this new arrangement will bring their students closer to our creative teams and help make our R&D programme sing.

“We want to make Stratford the most exciting destination in the UK for audiences of all kinds in 2016 and this marks a key moment on that journey, along with the restoration and new exhibition planned for the Swan Wing.

Thank you the the RSC for the above information


RSC announces Winter 2015 season

Last week public booking opened for the summer 2015 season for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

It looks set to be a fantastic and very busy year for both the RSC and us here at Avonlea. Lots of bookings have come in already and some dates are filling up fast.

In the main house the season starts with Arthur Miller’s 1949 Pulitzer prize-winning play about failed dreams and thwarted ambition, Death of a Salesman.

The big Shakespeare plays next year are The Merchant of Venice directed by Polly Findlay
Othello directed by Iqbal Khan, with Hugh Quarshie in the title role and Lucian Msamati as Iago.
The Venice season crosses both houses and the themes of the main house Shakespeare productions are reflected in the Swan Theatre repertoire.

In the Swan Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta opens the season, directed by Justin Audibert, The play picks up the themes of racism and revenge seen in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, as it follows the Christian Governor of Malta’s attempts to buy off the invading Turkish fleet with money levied from the island’s Jewish population.

Love’s Sacrifice by John Ford, directed by Matthew Dunster also joins the repertoire. This rarely-performed play is a thrilling revenge tragedy published in 1633, which echoes Othello as it explores the destructive power of jealousy

The final production is Volpone Ben Jonson’s great satirical comedy Volpone, set in Venice. Former RSC Artistic Director Trevor Nunn directs, returning to the Swan Theatre for the first time, which he created and opened in 1986.

50% OFF SUNDAY NIGHT when 3 or more nights booked.

Book any 3 nights including a Sunday and you will receive 50% off the standard rate on the Sunday night. Offer subject to availability and T&C’s Call 01789 205940 for availability and booking.

£5 off per night

Book to stay with us for 4 or more nights and receive £5 off the standard room rate per night. (subject to availability)

We look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon

Rob & Clare

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RSC Summer 2015 goes on general sale

The winter season for 2014 and has now been released for the RSC. Here is their overview of what lies ahead in 2014.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre
A season commemorating the First World War

  • LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST and LOVE’S LABOUR’S WON (Much Ado About Nothing) a double-bill directed by Christopher Luscombe, broadcast live to cinemas and streamed free to schools
  • THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE a new play by Phil Porter, based on real events in the First World War and directed by Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman

Swan Theatre
Staging the work of Shakespeare’s contemporaries and new plays

  • THE WITCH OF EDMONTON Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, concludes the ‘Roaring Girls’ season, directing Eileen Atkins in Rowley, Ford and Dekker’s domestic tragedy
  • THE SHOEMAKER’S HOLIDAY Dekker’s festive city comedy of class, conflict and cobblers in love is directed by Phillip Breen
  • OPPENHEIMER world premiere of Tom Morton-Smith’s new play about J. Robert Oppenheimer looks into the heart of the Manhattan Project to create the atom bomb, directed by Angus Jackson

Royal Shakespeare Theatre: 23 September 2014 – 14 March 2015

As part of a season marking the centenary of the First World War, Christopher Luscombe returns to the Royal Shakespeare Company to direct a single company of actors in a fresh pairing of two of Shakespeare’s most sparkling comedies, set in the shadow of war.

Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won (usually known as Much Ado About Nothing) will play in repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) from October. Both productions will share a setting based on a splendid country house just before and just after the War, designed by Simon Higlett. Lighting design will be by Oliver Fenwick and music by Nigel Hess.

Returning to the RSC are Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry who will play the lovers in both productions: Berowne and Benedick and Rosaline and Beatrice in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won respectively. Edward was last at the RSC in Gregory Doran’s productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet; he has more recently been in the touring production of One Man, Two Guvnors. Olivier award-winning actress Michelle was part of the RSC Complete Works productions in 2006 of Pericles and The Winter’s Tale. Other theatre credits include All’s Well That Ends Well and The Comedy of Errors (National Theatre). Michelle won the award for Best Actress in a Supporting role at the 2011 Olivier Awards for her portrayal of Sylvia in The Royal Court production of Tribes.

In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the mischievous Rosaline tests Berowne’s high-minded resolve in the summer of 1914. At the end of the play the merriment is curtailed as the lovers agree to submit to a period apart, unaware the world around them is about to be transformed by a war to end all wars. Love’s Labour’s Won begins four years later in the autumn of 1918 with a world-weary Benedick and Claudio returning from the trenches to a post-war house party, where Claudio falls in love with Hero and Benedick reignites his altogether more combative courtship with Beatrice. Youthful passions run riot before peace ultimately breaks out.

Christopher Luscombe makes his RSC directorial debut, having last appeared with the Company as an actor in 1997. His recent directing work includes The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Comedy of Errors for Shakespeare’s Globe, as well as Madness of George III and Spamalot in the West End.

Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, will direct the same company in her first production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The Christmas Truce. This new, uplifting play, by Phil Porter, for families and audiences of all ages, has been specially commissioned for this season. The story is inspired by real events exactly 100 years ago, when soldiers along the Western Front left their trenches on Christmas Eve, carrying only their courage and humanity, to meet their enemies in No Man’s Land to talk, exchange gifts and, incredibly, play football. The production will be designed by Associate Designer, Tom Piper, with lighting by Charles Balfour and music by Sam Kenyon.

The Christmas Truce will draw on true stories of soldiers in the Warwickshire Regiment and in particular, the experiences of local cartoonist, Bruce Bairnsfather, who worked at the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as an electrical engineer, and whose famous comic creation ‘Old Bill’ was hugely popular with the troops.

As the RSC creates the production throughout this year, the Company invites local people and those with connections to the Regiment to help uncover and commemorate stories from the period. An Open House community day will be held at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 8 March from 10am to 3pm for people to share and discover more about their own First World War family history. A supporting exhibition about Bruce Bairnsfather will open in the PACCAR Room in the autumn.

Swan Theatre: 6 October 2014 – 7 March 2015

The RSC continues to stage the plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries in the Swan Theatre. Extending the ‘Roaring Girls’ season, Gregory Doran will direct Eileen Atkins in a new production of the rarely-performed Jacobean domestic tragedy by Dekker, Ford and Rowley, The Witch of Edmonton, which will play in repertoire with an extended run of The White Devil, directed by Maria Aberg.

Eileen Atkins returns to the RSC in the title role of Elizabeth Sawyer, who is derided by her neighbours and accused of being a witch until she seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. Eileen last performed with the RSC in 1997 in The Unexpected Man with Michael Gambon. Her many credits include Cranford, for which she won a BAFTA and Emmy as well as Gosford Park. Her latest stage appearance is in Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London. The production will be designed by Nikki Turner, with lighting by Associate Artist, Tim Mitchell, and music by Associate Artist, Paul Englishby.

The RSC’s winter season in the Swan continues with a very different Jacobean classic and the premiere of a new commission.

Thomas Dekker’s festive comedy The Shoemaker’s Holiday, produced for the first time by the RSC, will be directed by Phillip Breen, who directed The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Company in 2012. Written in 1599, in the dying years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, it depicts a nation overshadowed by foreign wars and explores class, conflict and cobblers in love. When his father sends him to war to reform his ways, Rowland Lacy must take drastic action to avoid any chance of injury whilst secretly pursuing his love. He goes from riches to rags; losing himself among the craftsmen of London as he assumes the guise of a Dutch shoemaker at the shop of the larger-than-life Simon Eyre and his wife Margery, who are on their way from rags to riches.

The production will play in repertoire with Oppenheimer, a major new play written by Tom Morton-Smith about ‘the father of the atom bomb’, J. Robert Oppenheimer. As fascism spreads across Europe in 1939, theoretical physicists in California recognise the horrendous potential of atomic fission. The charismatic Oppenheimer spearheads the largest scientific undertaking in human history and races to win the battle of the laboratories to create a devastating weapon which could bring an end not only to the Second World War, but to all wars.

A history play for our times, Tom Morton-Smith’s Oppenheimer looks into the heart of the Manhattan Project, exploring the tension between scientific advances and the justification of their use during wartime and reveals the personal cost of achieving greatness. Tom Morton-Smith is a former writer in residence at Paines Plough, whose play In Doggerland, produced by Box of Tricks, toured the UK last autumn. His play Everyday Maps for Everyday Use was produced at the Finborough Theatre in December 2012. Angus Jackson, Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, will direct his first production for the RSC.

Thank you to the RSC for the information

If you are looking for a Bed & Breakfast in Stratford upon Avon to stay at when visiting the RSC we would gladly welcome you at Avonlea. We are just a 5 minute walk from the theatres and our comfy beds will ensure you have a good nights sleep after a day sightseeing. We will also serve you a freshly cooked local breakfast to set you up the next day.

The Summer 2014 season for the RSC has been announced,there are many exciting productions to look forward to here is an insight to what lies ahead.


The RSC’s Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, and Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, announce the RSC’s artistic programme for Summer 2014, their first full season of programming since taking over the Company.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre: 18 March – 6 September 2014

Gregory Doran follows his production of Richard II with Henry IV Parts I & II in his six year journey across the entire First Folio of 36 plays. RSC Associate Artist, Antony Sher, returns to the Company to play the infamous knight Falstaff. Antony Sher last performed as Prospero in the acclaimed co-production with Baxter Theatre Company of The Tempest in 2009 and is currently appearing in a new production of Hysteria at Hampstead Theatre. He will be joined by Alex Hassell, who returns to the company as Prince Hal, having performed at the RSC in 2011 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The City Madam, and Gregory Doran’s production of Cardenio. Jasper Britton will play Henry IV, following his last appearance at the RSC as the Marquis de Sade in Marat/Sade in 2011. Paola Dionisotti plays Mistress Quickly, following her performances as Pandulph in King John and Margaret in Richard III last year.

These two plays, with a cross-cast ensemble of actors, will transfer into the Barbican in London in December 2014, after runs in Stratford, Newcastle upon Tyne’s Theatre Royal and a five week UK tour of Number One theatres. The RSC extends its relationship with the Barbican for a further two years following the transfer of Richard II this December. Alongside the plays, both organisations will collaborate on an extensive creative learning programme. The RSC Education and Events & Exhibitions departments will work in partnership with Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning to engage new and existing audiences with events, workshops and special projects in east London schools and communities.

Shakespeare’s early exuberant romantic comedy about friendship and betrayal, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, will join the Royal Shakespeare Theatre repertoire from July 2014. Performed on the RST stage for the first time in 45 years, the production will be directed by Simon Godwin, making his RSC debut. Simon is an Associate Director at the Royal Court and at Bristol Old Vic. His production of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude recently played to critical acclaim at the National Theatre.

All three productions will be broadcast ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ to cinemas around the world, through a continued partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, and streamed free to schools, with the support of Ravensbourne College.

Swan Theatre: 5 April – 4 October 2014

The Swan Theatre returns to its original purpose as a home for the plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries with ‘Roaring Girls’, a season of three rarely performed Jacobethan plays. Led by Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, the season reveals some of the great parts written for and about women.

The repertoire opens in April with The Roaring Girl by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker, directed by Jo Davies. This delightfully subversive city comedy was written around 1607 about the fearless and feisty Moll Cutpurse who unmans all who cross her path. It is based on real life character Mary Frith and drawn from the slang ‘roaring boy’ for a carousing young man with exceptional fighting skills. It has only been performed once at the RSC; Barry Kyle directed Helen Mirren in the title role for a production which played in Stratford and London in 1983. Jo Davies began her career as an RSC Assistant Director and recently directed Opera North’s acclaimed production of Carousel. She is currently working on Silly Kings for National Theatre Wales, which opens in Cardiff later this year.

The second play in the season is Arden of Faversham, written in 1592 and published anonymously, but attributed variously to Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare. This wonderfully dark and dirty story of domestic portrayal is based on a true story of a successful businessman who was murdered by his wife Alice and her lover. The part of Alice Arden is the largest role for a woman in all Elizabethan drama. The play has only been performed twice by the RSC, in 1982, directed by Terry Hands at The Other Place, and in 1970, directed by Buzz Goodbody in a landmark production at the Roundhouse as part of the Theatregoround Festival. Polly Findlay makes her RSC directorial debut with this production, having recently directed the Olivier-award winning Derren Brown: Svengali and Antigone for the National Theatre. She is directing War Horse for the National in Berlin and will direct a new play by Tim Price at the National Theatre Shed later this year.

The final play in the season is The White Devil. Maria Aberg, who has recently directed As You Like It and King John for the RSC, will take a gloriously bold approach to this bloodthirsty tale of murder and revenge by John Webster. One of the great works of Jacobean theatre, the play made its stage debut in 1612 and was described as a ‘compellingly dangerous and fascinating play’. It has only had one previous production at the RSC, in 1996 directed by Gale Edwards.

The ‘Roaring Girls’ season will also include a limited run of our award-winning production of The Rape of Lucrece featuring internationally-acclaimed performer and singer Camille O’Sullivan. The provocative and politically-charged epic poem has been adapted for the stage by Elizabeth Freestone, Feargal Murray and Camille O’Sullivan and is directed by Elizabeth Freestone. It was originally performed as part of the reopening of the RSC’s Stratford theatres and has since been a hit at the Edinburgh and Sydney Festivals. The production’s international tour continues to Dublin, Derry/Londonderry and the Netherlands during the autumn 2013.


Why not head on over to the RSC website to check their availability and make your bookings for  Greg Doran’s first full year as Artistic Director. Then once you have your places booked you can book in with us we are just a 5 minute stroll to the RSC and we assure a warm welcome.

A little insight into all the people who have helped us transform the Bed and Breakfast over the past two years.

When we moved to Stratford-upon-Avon to run a Bed & Breakfast we were initially unaware of how many fantastic suppliers and local businesses were on our door step. As we started looking around to find the best suppliers for our breakfast and local businesses to help with the renovation on Avonlea we found some fantastic people. So today here is a little shout out for all of the locals that have helped us move Avonlea forward over the past 2 years.

Many of the people mentioned below we have met through Twitter. Those of you who follow us on Twitter will already know I like to chat and there is a fantastic community that has built up around Twitter. I would also class many of the people as friends too. If you are interested in finding out any more about the people mentioned you will find their Twitter names and websites at the bottom of the page where available.

I would first like to mention our local food suppliers; I could not start this without mentioning Anne & Chris for Monsoon Estates Coffee. They hand roast some of the best coffee I have ever tasted, and they have built their business up through their local markets and the Stratford Twitter community. We are proud to serve their coffee at breakfast to wake you up for a busy day enjoying Stratford.

Next up are Peter and Bill of Moss Cottage Preserves, Peter hand makes some wonderful Jams and Marmalades that we serve at breakfast. Along with the normal flavours there is often some more unusual ones like Quince Jam and Spiced Pumpkin Marmalade, the latter of which actually won an award at the International Marmalade Awards.

Obviously to go with the Jam or Marmalade (“JarMalade” as Bill and I like to refer to them!) is some freshly baked bread. Grants bakery deliver fantastic bread right to our door 6 days a week, these guys start work at 10pm to ensure they can be delivering fresh bread in time for breakfast. If you ever pop out for a morning stroll and notice it on the door step please feel free to bring it in.

Now the main event at breakfast is the Sausage and Bacon, we had to look a little further afield for this but we still only had to go as far as Broadway to the fantastic Willersey Provisions. When it comes to a breakfast sausage we believe that it should be high quality but not too herby such is the current trend with most places. Willersey seem to have the balance just right. When it comes to bacon they cut theirs extra thick for us, this rasher of bacon is so much more pleasing than the paper thin stuff.

To complete the Avonlea breakfast experience we get our Eggs from Vanessa of Country Eggs. Again another supplier just over the border into the Cotswolds but the hens on her farm are of great quality and she supplies us with fresh eggs every week that we will cook to your liking. Many people take the easy way out and microwave their scrambled eggs, we are firm believers in doing it the traditional way in a pan with just a little butter, they stay so much softer.

Our final local food supplier is Franks Biscuits. They hand make luxury Oaties, Butter Bites or Shortbread that we provide on our hospitality trays. They have won many gold stars in The Great Taste Awards over recent years. They are just the perfect little pick me up after a long day exploring Stratford sights.


That is everyone with regards to local food here at Avonlea but they are not the only local businesses that have helped us transform Avonlea. Over the past 2 years we have been through various stages of refurbishment. Please see my news feed from April for more about “our refurbishment”.

The main contributor to our transformation was Charlie Budd and his team who spent over a month decorating the B&B from top to bottom. He could have actually done it bottom to top for all I know! We were away at the time and Charlie does like to do things differently! Anyway, he spent a great amount of time painting all of the rooms so they felt bright and fresh. We got back in Charlies’ final week and it seemed that what had got them through the job was Charlie’s wit and Monsoon Estates Coffee.

Now we had all the walls and ceilings ship shape, it was time to focus on the flooring. We sourced Barbers Flooring of Stratford to take on the task of carpeting the entire Bed and Breakfast. We have gone for soft luxury carpet in all of the bedrooms and slightly more contemporary sisal in the hallway, without detracting from the Victorian roots of the property. Finally, we chose Karndean flooring for in the Breakfast room to make the most of the natural light that floods in through the conservatory.

The final flourish to our refurbishment was to change the curtains, so this is when we called upon Fiona Tait. She came round and we gave her the brief that all curtains had to be black out and showed her the colour schemes for each room. Fiona came back with some fantastic suggestions and a few weeks later she came back and fitted them all. We were really happy to find Fiona as she seemed to really understand our style and chose some fantastic fabric and made us some lovely curtains.

Once the refurbishment was complete we had to show everyone who looks at our website so we knew exactly who to call. Sally Crane, she had already done the initial website shots when we first moved in to Avonlea and she also did our wedding a few months later. Sally has such a good eye and always picks out shots you wouldn’t normally think of. All of the shots currently on our website are by Sally and we are hoping to convince her to do a few more local scenes for us on canvas for the bedrooms.

Without all of these people if would not have been possible to make Avonlea the place it is today, if you would like to find out anything else about any of our suppliers please see the links below.


Monsoon Estates – @MonsoonEstates or

Grants Bakeries – @GrantsBakeries or

Franks Biscuits – @FranksBiscuits or

Charlie Budd – @charliebudd or

Barbers Flooring –

Fiona Tait – @Fionainteriors or

Sally Crane – @SallyCranePhoto or

We have been lucky enough to have @David_Tennant write a guest blog for us and below you will find an insight into the impact that David Tennant has had on Stratford in his previous visits;

David Tennant will star in Richard II in Stratford-upon-Avon from Thursday 10th October to Saturday 15th November 2013. During that time, including previews, he will play 39 performances before the production transfers to The Barbican Centre in London for another 46 performances.

This will be the fourth season that David has played for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The first was in 1996 when he played Touchstone in As You Like It, Jack Lane in The Herbal Bed and Colonel Hamilton in The General From America. During 2000 he played Jack Absolute in The Rivals, Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy Of Errors and the title role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet

Of course his most famous season in Stratford was in 2008 when he played the title role of Hamlet, as well as Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Hamlet, and David especially, received great reviews from both theatre critics and audiences. In fact, The Guardian theatre critic called David ‘The greatest Hamlet of his generation.’

Each of the performances that season were sold out and queues for returns formed for each performance, even midweek. Towards the end of the run people even slept overnight outside the theatre (in November!) in order to get a return ticket and some changed hands on eBay for several hundreds of pounds despite the Royal Shakespeare Company’s best efforts to stop profiteering.

Reports about the Press Night for Hamlet was an item on the front of most of the broadsheet newspapers the following morning and it was even mentioned on Newsnight on BBC Two! David’s fame as the most popular Doctor Who actor was so extensive that a Stratford fish and chip shop put a photo of a Dalek in its window with the sign ‘Exterminate your hunger!’ and even that was mentioned in some national newspapers! The then Prime Minister Gordon Brown even attended the First Night too!

That season the Royal Shakespeare Company announced on the first night that both David and Patrick Stewart (who played Claudius) would only sign Royal Shakespeare Company merchandise but, after the first preview. When it became obvious that it was David Tennant that people had come to see, Patrick did not appear at the stage door again during the run. David signed for about 10 minutes after most performances and a barrier was erected around the area to make it safe for the large crowds that gathered. By the end of the run, lots of fans realised that the only way to get an autograph was to start queuing during the performance so they would go to the stage door on nights when they were not watching a performance!

It was during the interval of a performance of Hamlet in October 2008 that David appeared from the stage door in Stratford to accept the Most Popular Actor Award via a live satellite link to the National Television Awards in London and it was during his acceptance speech that he announced that he would be leaving Doctor Who the following year. He then returned to play the second half of Hamlet with nobody in the audience aware of the bombshell he had dropped!

The RSC’s annual accounts noted an increase in profits during that season and local hotels and traders reported the same which they are hoping will occur again this year.

That seems likely to happen because, as soon as David was officially announced to play Richard II, the Royal Shakespeare Company reported that they had experienced a massive surge in applications for Memberships as fans knew from last time that that was the best way to get tickets.

When tickets went on sale, both for Members and later for the general public, the Royal Shakespeare Company website could not cope with the demand and, despite turning off the rest of their website, fans reported it was taking over an hour to process their orders so that people lost the seats they had as all transactions had to be completed within the hour.

There were fears by some regular theatre-goers during the 2008 season that fans of David might disrupt the performances, but, despite even having some young children in the audiences, this never happened as they all complied with theatre etiquette and were well behaved.

Even now the Stratford Walks walking tour of Stratford mentions the great effect that David Tennant had on the town that season, as does a backstage tour of the theatre even though David played in the Courtyard Theatre.

If you are lucky enough to have secured tickets for Richard II or you would like to join in the chilly queues for the chance of a returned ticket a warm welcome is assured for you at Avonlea.

To celebrate David Tennant’s return to Stratford we are offering 1 night FREE Bed & Breakfast accommodation when you book 5 or more nights in total. This offer is available Thursday 10th October to Saturday 15thNovember 2013.

We would like to thank @David_Tennant for this wonderful insight into the effect David has had over the years on Stratford. If you would like to learn more about David’s work please see the following site and follow @David_Tennant on Twitter


David Tennant - To Visit Stratford Upon Avon

Since moving in we have spent much time and effort planning our refurbishment.

Last year we changed all of the beds, we had great fun finding “the right bed”. The only way to test the true quality of a bed is kick your shoes off and jump on and lay as you would at home. We did get some funny looks. In the end we found the ideal bed whilst staying at a hotel, we slept so well, in the morning we looked under the sheets to find out where it had come from. We contacted the company and arranged for them to meet us at Avonlea. They had a vast range and we ended up choosing their stylish deluxe divan base with luxury pocket sprung mattresses. This was the best investment we made in our 1st year as many of our guests say it’s “the best nights sleep they have had in a long time”

We knew after changing the beds there would be a long list of changes still to come and the biggest job was to redecorate the whole house. Fortunately we know Charlie, a local decorator who told us the job would take at least a month. Unfortunately this meant that we had to close in the New Year and have a holiday ourselves, what a shame! (more about our holiday in another post)

So at the beginning of this year we closed for 7 weeks so we could re-decorate and re-carpet throughout the whole house. Charlie lent us his colour chart so we could choose the best colours; I never thought choosing the right shade of cream could be so difficult. (50 shades of cream springs to mind!).Whilst we were away Charlie and his team including a Spaniel called Freddie, set to on the work.  After returning from our time away we were blown away by how light and airy the house looked, all that time choosing the right shade had paid off!

We also used the time whilst we were closed to change all of the flooring throughout. We decided on plush carpets for the bedrooms so that they would feel warm and snuggly under foot. In the hallway we decided on sisal because we love the look of this fantastic natural fibre. We wanted to change the breakfast room to hard wood but when a previous extension had been added it wasn’t put on the same level so this ruled hard wood out. We found a fantastic product called Karndeen that looks just like real wood but is flexible this meant it would go down our slight slope from the conservatory.

All in all we are happy with the new look of the B&B, there was just one more thing that needed doing….curtains. So I asked round some friends and found a lovely lady called Fiona. Fiona came round and helped us choose the curtains for each room, the only thing we told her is that they had to done in be black out material (a must in our opinion). She came up with some fantastic choices and 6 weeks later we had some lovely new curtains. We think this has now finished off all of our hard work, making Avonlea look stylish and comfy yet not detracting from the buildings Victorian heritage.

We are just now waiting for our photographer to return from holiday and we will be able to share with you all how wonderful Avonlea now looks, I did consider taking the pictures myself but I do not think that I would do any of the work justice. So watch this space for a future post with picture of the B&B.



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47 Shipston Road
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