Stratford-upon-Avon ... a potted guide

Places worth visiting...

The Pudding Club

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Cornbury Music Festival

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The birthplace of England's greatest playwright William Shakespeare and steeped in culture and history, Stratford is situated just a few miles from the northern edge of the Cotswolds. This historic market town, set in beautiful rural Warwickshire countryside on the banks of the River Avon, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK and is also an ideal base from which to explore the Cotswolds. 

Stratford's name originates from the old English for street and ford and, like many Cotswold market towns, it was a major wool centre until the late 19th Century. Today it thrives on tourism and theatre, both of which are the legacy of William Shakespeare, who is thought to have been born in Henley Street in 1564. 

Millions of tourists flock to Stratford each year, many to watch a Shakespeare play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre or Swan Theatre, which both re-opened in November 2010 following a major renovation project. Shakespeare's birthplace in Henley Street is owned and managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who acquired it in 1847 with help from the public. The house is entered through a Visitor's Centre which contains a fascinating exhibition about Shakespeare's life. 

Other properties owned and run by the trust include Mary Arden's House in nearby Wilmcote, where Shakespeare's mother grew up, and Anne Hathaway's cottage in Shottery, the early home of Shakespeare's wife.

Shakespeare was buried at the beautiful Holy Trinity Church on the banks of the River Avon in Stratford. While Shakespeare dominates Stratford's cultural life, the town offers visitors plenty of other things to enjoy. 

Other popular attractions include the Stratford Butterfly Farm, the MAD (Mechanical Art & Design) Museum, which opened in 2012, and the Brass Rubbing Centre.

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© Loving The Cotswolds. 2019.