Stratford upon Avon

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    Feb 02, 2013
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Town Hall and Shakespeare Hotel - Stratford Upon Avon - panoramic
Town Hall and Shakespeare Hotel - Stratford Upon Avon - panoramic
Photo by ell brown

Stratford is a town with a character and atmosphere of its own. Apart from the beauty of its river, its streets and building preserve many links with its past; the layout and the names of its central streets have changed little since medieval times; Clopton Bridge was built by nearly five centruies ago; the fifteenth-century range of gild building remains intact; while a goodly number of timber-framed houses of Elizabethan and Jacobean date survive side by side with brick buildings of later periods. Stratford upon Avon, famous the world over as the birth-place of William Shakespeare, is situated – almost symbolically – at the heart of England.

Surrounded by countryside notable for its natural and historical appeal, the town enjoys a pleasant riverside setting roughly midway along the course of the Warwickshire Avon. It is, however the fame of the properties associated with William Shakespeare and his family, and of the Shakespeare Festival centred on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, that makes Stratford upon Avon a Mecca for visitors from all over the world.

Shakespeare`s play are now produced here for nearly eight months of each year to an audience representative of practically every nation of the world. At the same time Stratford has become a centre of cultural and academic activities. The smooth flowing Avon, a river navigable for commerce until the beginning of the last century, is Stratford`s greatest natural asset, while second only in importance in contributing to the prosperity of the town is fine medieval stone bridge spanning the river built by Hugh Clopton, a native of Stratford who became Lord Mayor of London.

On the one bank lie upon meadows, and on the other the Bancroft Gardens, with the canal basin now under the care of the National Trust, are overlooked by the statue of Shakespeare known as the Gower Memorial. Stratford`s first permanent theatre in honour of Shakespeare was founded by Charles Flower on the banks of the Avon in 1879. Here developed the Shakespeare Festival, now world famous, and when the theatre was destroyed by fire in 1926 Shakespeare-lovers all over the world, particularly Americans, built and endowed the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Its Shakespearian productions attract an international audience and from time to time are taken out on tour overseas and televised.          



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