A One Man Town.

Stratford

P1330845smWalking around Stratford Upon Avon you could quite easily think that it only exists because of one man, Mr Shakespeare.

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Originally an Anglo-Saxon village where the river could be crossed. It was granted a charter to hold a weekly market in 1196.

P1330706smP1330711smAs a result the village expanded into a town and became a centre for trade and commerce. With the emergence of the canals, Stratford became a gateway from the Severn and Avon up into Birmingham.

P1330772smP1330866smP1330715smIn April 1564, John (a glove maker) and Mary (daughter of an affluent farmer) had a son whom they named William and Stratford’s future was sealed. William became an actor, poet and playwright.

P1340107smP1340143smBy 1592 Will’s plays were being performed in London by a troop of actors called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later to be known as The King’s Men. Will married, had children wrote many plays and sonnets, by the time he reached the age of 49 he retired and returned to Stratford where he died three years later.

P1340167smP1340172smIn 1769 actor David Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee which took place over three days in Stratford and this possibly kick started Stratford as a tourist destination. The councils and planners have managed to keep many of the old properties associated with Will. His birth place, his school, his house where he died, his daughters home, his wife’s family home, his fathers family farm, his mothers family home (although this turned out to actually being 30yrds further down the road!).

P1340186smP1340170smDuring our visit we have done very little, if anything to do with Will. Yes we’ve been to the theatre, but not to actually see any of his plays and we’ve resisted buying any of the tat that is everywhere. However, if it wasn’t for that chap who wrote some plays all those years ago (the most performed British playwright) much of what we have done and seen wouldn’t exist, certainly the 2.5/3 million tourists wouldn’t flock here each year.  I wonder what Stratford would be like if he’d never been born, or had just followed in his fathers footsteps as a glove maker. Will Scarborough in centuries to come have fridge magnets and clotted cream fudge with pictures of Alan Ayckbourn (the most performed living British playwright), and in Hull will you be able to buy a John Godber (the second most performed living British playwright) bow tie and Coal not Dole badges?P1340185sm

4 thoughts on “A One Man Town.

  1. Boatwif

    As a Stratford frequenter (by car and by boat) I loved this post. Yes, it's certainly a place that knows how to capitalise on its literary and thespian connections…Last summer when in Stratford (by boat) we saw the final night of 'The Hypocrite' written by Richard Bean for the Hull City of Culture year – and, he, Richard Bean, was sitting next to me… If only I'd known and had time to prepare some questions! Long live British theatre, modern and period.Sue /Boatwif /nb Cleddau

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  2. Pip and Mick

    Hi SueWe saw 'The Hypocrite' in Hull last year. Richard has written several plays for Hull Truck through the years and I knew a couple of the actors in the show so we made a special trip. Pip

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