|Stratford-upon-Avon is a town on the Avon, a river in south Warwickshire, England. Stratford is known worldwide as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. It is also the administrative centre of Stratford-on-Avon District. In 2001 the town had a population of 23,676.
Stratford is a popular tourist destination, as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, and receives over two million visitors a year from all over the world. Apart from tourism, other industries in the town include aluminium ware and narrowboat building.
History and Geography
Stratford has Anglo-Saxon origins, and grew up as a market town in medieval times. See also ford (river).
Stratford is close to the UK's second largest city, Birmingham, and is easily accessible from junction 15 of the M40 motorway. The seven-mile £12m Stratford Northern Bypass opened in June 1987 as the A422. The town has good rail links from Birmingham (Snow Hill station, Moor Street station) and from London, with up to seven direct trains a day from London Marylebone.
The town has a new cycle-path, and is on the canal network.
New Place todayThe town is located on the Avon, on the banks of which stands the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The RSC also runs two smaller theatres, the Swan, which is modelled on an Elizabethan theatre, and The Other Place, a black box theatre.
Other tourist attractions within the town include Shakespeare's birthplace and two contemporary buildings, Hall's Croft (the one-time home of Shakespeare's daughter, Susannah) and New Place, which stands on the site of an earlier house originally owned by the playwright himself. Also within the town is Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare was baptised and is buried.
Near to the town are two other properties associated with Shakespeare: Anne Hathaway's Cottage at Shottery, the former home of Shakespeare's wife, and Mary Arden's House, the former home of his mother.
Non-Shakespearean attractions include a Teddy Bear Museum, a Butterfly Farm, the Bancroft Gardens, and The Black Swan (locally known as the 'Dirty Duck'), a pub said to be frequented by actors 'fresh from the stage'.
Eight miles away is Ragley Hall, one of England's finest stately homes and home to the Jerwood Sculpture Park.
The town had a publicly-funded art gallery, The Gallery, but this was closed in 2004.
The influx of tourists into Stratford has caused tension with residents for decades, and there are perennial complains about numerous tour buses clogging certain roads in the town.
There are plans to refurbish the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and to build offices and flats on the defunct cattle market next to the railway station.
Stratford is also home to several institutions set up for the study of Shakespeare, including the Shakespeare Centre, which holds books and documents related to the playwright, and the Shakespeare Institute, an academic institution.
There are a number of primary and secondary schools, including two grammar schools: King Edward VI School, also known as "KES" and Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls.
Screaming Lord Sutch started his political campaign in Stratford
John Profumo was MP for Stratford
Another famous playwright, J.B. Priestley, died in Stratford.
The towns of Stratford, Australia and Stratford, Ontario both lie on rivers named Avon.
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