First off, Will would like me to apologize for the number of F1 photos on the Picasa site. We are terribly busy appreciating old buildings and such, and therefore have not had time to edit out all the boring photos.
Onward. Yesterday we left Leicester and drove to Stratford-upon-Avon, for a pilgrimage of sorts to see William Shakespeare's home town. After some standard British road confusion, we made it and wandered over to Shakespeare's birthplace, which has been surprisingly well-preserved. It was donated to the kingdom in the 1840s, after it was rumored that P.T. Barnum was interested in purchasing it. There was much uproar and patriotism, and Charles Dickens staged performances of Shakespeare's plays around the country to drum up support. Eventually the Shakespeare nerds were successful and the house came under the control of the National Shakespeare Trust. Upstairs are 3 rooms, including one in which it is said that Shakespeare was born. In another room, a large window overlooks the street, surrounded by a smooth wooden ledge. I moved my hand over the entire ledge, hopeful that I would manage to touch an inch of space that Shakespeare had touched himself at some point.
A few blocks away is the Holy Trinity Church where Bill himself is buried. We first wandered around the church graveyard and took in some very English scenery, complete with moss-covered stones and gray, damp weather. Inside, a docent apologized and said that we would be able to see the grave, but that we would have to move quietly past the school children who were practicing some choir songs. We moved towards the front of the church, skirting a group of uniformed children singing from hymnals. Before the grave is the oldest part of the church, dating from approximately 1210 (making this the 800th anniversary of the church). Up at the front, the original stone altarpiece is still in use after the church leaders hid it so that it would be spared during the Reformation. With soft afternoon light coming in the windows, I found myself alone in a room with Shakespeare's tomb. The grave is roped off due to wear, but the inscription and the bust in the wall were steps away. With children singing "Hosanna" in the background, I had just a moment of quiet before the crowd surged in around me. Best moment of the trip? Yes. Best of my life? Certainly top five.