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Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire Hotels, Resort Accommodations

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Despite its worldwide fame, STRATFORD-UPON-AVON is, at heart, an unassuming market town with an unexceptional pedigree. A charter for Stratford's weekly market was granted in the twelfth century, a tradition continued to this day, and the town later became an important stopping-off point for stagecoaches between London, Oxford and the north. Like all such places, Stratford had its clearly defined class system and within this typical milieu John and Mary Shakespeare occupied the middle rank, and would have been forgotten long ago had their first son, William , not turned out to be one of the greatest writers ever to use the English language. A consequence of their good fortune is that this ordinary little place is nowadays all but smothered by package-tourist hype and its central streets groan under the weight of thousands of tourists. Don't let that deter you: dodging the multitudes is possible by avoiding the busiest attractions - principally the Birthplace Museum - and the Royal Shakespeare Company offers superb theatre. Moreover, Stratford still has the ability to surprise and delight, whether in the excellence of some of its restaurants or by the gentle river views beside the lovely Holy Trinity Church .

Spreading back from the River Avon, Stratford's town centre is fairly flat and compact, its mostly modern buildings filling out a simple gridiron just two blocks deep and four blocks long. Running along the northern edge of the centre is Bridge Street , the main thoroughfare lined with shops and chock-a-block with local buses. At its west end, Bridge Street divides into Henley Street, home of the Birthplace Museum , and Wood Street, which leads up to the market place. It also intersects with High Street. This, and its continuation Chapel and Church streets, cuts south to pass most of the old buildings that the town still possesses, most notably Nash's House and, on neighbouring Old Town Street, Hall's Croft . From here, it's a short hop to the charming Holy Trinity Church , where Shakespeare lies buried, and then only a few minutes back along the river past the theatres to the foot of Bridge Street. In itself, this circular walk only takes about fifteen minutes, but it takes all day if you potter around the attractions. In addition, there are two outlying Shakespearean properties, Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Shottery and Mary Arden's House in Wilmcote - though you have to be a really serious sightseer to want to see them all.

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