STRATFORD UPON AVON - INTERESTING FACTS
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Hugh Clopton, responsible for the building of Clopton Bridge (Stratford's main bridge over the River Avon) and New Place.
Had a connection with the Gunpowder Plot via one of the family successors over 115 years after his death, in that Ambrose Rookwood a second cousin to the family tried and found guilty of being involved and so was executed on 31st January 1606 in Old Palace Yard Westminster along with Thomas Wintour ,Guy Fawkes, and Robert Keyes.
Ambrose Rookwood had moved with his family to Clopton Hall near Stratford upon Avon to be near to operations, as an expert horseman he was to provide the mounts for the conspirators to move quickly.
It is believed that the characters in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew are based on the Clopton family.
The Archers Radio Soap
The Old Bull Inn at Inkberrow, the place where William Shakespeare rested on his way to Worcester to obtain his marriage licence is also the place where the long running radio serial ‘The Archers’ is based, the fictional pub the Bull and the village of Ambridge are based on the real life The Old Bull at Inkberrow where it is possible to see memorabilia and photographs of past and present cast.
Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday (23rd April 1616) of a fever which was said at the time to have been the result of a 'merry meeting' with his fellow poets Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton, at which they all drank too much.
At this time, the life expectancy of a person born in England was 30 years; fewer than half survived until age 15.
The Plague ("Black Death") in Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare was lucky to survive his childhood - within a few weeks of his birth in April 1564, Stratford-upon-Avon was struck by an outbreak of The Plague.
The doors of houses were marked with red crosses and daubed with the words 'Lord have mercy on us'. Between 30 June and 31 December of that year there were 238 recorded deaths in the town out of a total population of 800.
The Clopton Chapel
Clopton Chapel in the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratfordian Sir Hugh Clopton became Lord Mayor of London and was a great benefactor to the town.
He completely rebuilt the Chapel of the Guild of the Holy Cross and provided the stone bridge over the Avon which carries his name, and the traffic, to this day.
He had a magnificent altar-tomb built in the then Lady Chapel but was, in fact, buried in London. The tomb is one of the finest of anywhere in England (see one of main pictures above).
After the reformation his descendants claimed the chapel as their own and it now contains the finest renaissance tomb in all England, that of George Carew (died 1629) and his wife Joyce Clopton. Carew was James I's Master in Ordnance, hence the canon on the tomb.
Stratford's First Real Theatre
The first real theatre in Stratford was a temporary wooden affair built in 1769 by the actor David Garrick for Shakespeare Jubilee celebrations of that year to mark Shakespeare’s birthday.
The theatre, built not far from the site of the present Royal Shakespeare Theatre, was almost washed away in two days of torrential rain that resulted in terrible flooding.