Stratford-upon-Avon

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Stratford-upon-Avon (/ˌstrætfəd əpɒn ˈeɪvən/) is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, 22 miles (35 km) south east of Birmingham and 8 miles (13 km) south west of Warwick. It is the largest and most populous town of the District of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term “on” to indicate that it covers a much larger area than the town itself. Four electoral wards make up the urban town of Stratford; Alveston, Avenue and New Town, Mount Pleasant and Guild and Hathaway. The estimated total population for those wards in 2007 was 25,505.

The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of the playwright and poet William Shakespeare, receiving about three million visitors a year from all over the world. The Royal Shakespeare Company resides in Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre, one of Britain’s most important cultural venues. It was formerly proposed as a World Heritage Site, “Shakespeare’s Stratford”.

Stratford has Anglo-Saxon origins, and grew up as a market town in medieval times. The original charters of the town were granted in 1196, making Stratford officially over 800 years old. The name is a fusion of the Old English strǣt, meaning “street”, and ford, meaning that a Roman road forded the River Avon at the site of the town.

In 1769 the actor David Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee which saw the construction of a large rotunda and the influx of many visitors for the three day event. This contributed to the growing phenomenon of Bardolatry which made Stratford a tourist destination.

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