Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon District, in Warwickshire.
Stratford was originally inhabited by Anglo-Saxons and remained a village before the lord of the manor, John of Coutances, set out plans to develop it into a town in 1196. In that same year, Stratford was granted a charter from King Richard I to hold a weekly market in the town, giving it its status as a market town. As a result, Stratford experienced an increase in trade and commerce as well as urban expansion.
The name is a combination of the Old English strat, meaning 'street', ford, indicating a shallow part of a river or stream, allowing it to be crossed by walking or driving and avon which is the Celtic word for river.
The 'street' was a Roman road which connected Icknield Street in Alcester to the Fosse Way. The ford, which has been used as a crossing since Roman times, later became the location of Clopton Bridge.
The settlement which later became known as Stratford was first inhabited by Anglo-Saxons following their 7th century invasion of what would become known as Warwickshire. The land was owned by the church of Worcester and it remained a village until the late 12th century when it was developed into a town by lord of the manor, John of Coutances. John laid out a new town plan in 1196 based on a grid system to expand Stratford and allow people to rent property in order to trade within the town. Additionally, a charter was granted to Stratford by King Richard I in 1196 which allowed a weekly market to be held in the town, giving it its status as a market town.
John's plans to develop Stratford into a town meant Stratford became a place of work for tradesmen and merchants. By 1252 the town had approximately 240 burgages, as well as shops, stalls and other buildings. Stratford's new workers established a guild known as the Guild of the Holy Cross for their business and religious requirements.
During Stratford's early expansion into a town, the only access across the River Avon into and out of the town was over a wooden bridge, thought to have been constructed in 1318. In 1480, a new masonry arch bridge was built to replace it called Clopton Bridge, named after Hugh Clopton who paid for its construction. The new bridge made it easier for people to trade within Stratford and for passing travellers to stay in the town.
The Cotswolds, located close to Stratford, was a major sheep producing area up until the latter part of the 19th century, with Stratford one of its main centres for the processing, marketing, and distribution of sheep and wool. Consequently, Stratford also became a centre for tanning during the 15th–17th centuries.
In 1769, the actor David Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee over three days which saw the construction of a large rotunda and the influx of many visitors. This contributed to the growing phenomenon of Bardolatry which made Stratford a tourist destination.