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The History of Stratford Upon Avon
STRATFORD UPON AVON IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Stratford upon Avon was founded by the Saxons when they invaded what is now Warwickshire in the 7th century AD. The name Stratford is made up of Celtic and Saxon words. It was the straet ford that is the ford by the Roman road. Avon is a Celtic word meaning river or water.
At first Stratford Upon Avon was a typical village but in the late 12th century it was transformed into a town. (At that time trade and commerce were growing rapidly and many new towns were founded). In the year 1196 King Richard I granted Stratford the right to hold weekly markets. (In the Middle Ages there were few shops so if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to a market).
Soon the town of Stratford Upon Avon was up and running and there were many craftsmen there such as blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, brewers and bakers. Stratford was also known for its malting industry. (Processing barley for brewing).
Medieval Stratford Upon Avon would seem tiny to us. It probably only had a population of between 1,000 and 1,500. However towns were very small in those days. However by the 13th century Stratford had a small grammar school.
Furthermore in the Middle Ages people formed religious communities called guilds. The Guild of the Holy Cross was formed in Stratford in 1269. The guild had its own chapel which still stands.
STRATFORD UPON AVON 1500-
In the late 16th century Stratford Upon Avon was still a small market town. It probably had a population of about 2,000. The town slowly grew despite outbreaks of plague in 1564 and in 1645.
In 1553 King Edward VI refounded the grammar school. In the same year he incorporated Stratford Upon Avon (formed a corporation to run it).
Meanwhile in 1557 a glover from Stratford Upon Avon named John Shakespeare married
Mary Arden, the daughter of a well-
However in 1587 William Shakespeare left for London. In 1597 he bought a house named New Place in Stratford Upon Avon. When he died in April 1616 he was buried in Holy Trinity Church. A bust of William Shakespeare was carved by Gerard Johnson in 1623.
William Shakespeare had a daughter called Susanna. She married a man named John Hall and they lived in a house in Stratford called Hall's Croft.
The maternal grandfather of John Harvard (1607-
During the 17th and 18th centuries Stratford Upon Avon remained a quiet market town.