Bancroft Gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Bancroft Gardens, located on the bank of the River Avon in front of the world famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre, attract over a million visitors every year. The Bancroft was originally an area of grazing land for the townspeople’s animals. The Canal Basin formed the terminus of the Stratford-to-Birmingham canal, completed in 1816. The Gardens occupy the site of former canal wharves, warehouses, and a second canal basin that was built in 1826 and refilled in 1902.
The statue of Shakespeare is the work of Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, and was presented to the town in 1888. The smaller figures are of the Shakespearean characters Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal; symbolising philosophy, tragedy, comedy and history. Other features of note are:
- A memorial commemorating 50 years of peace between the nations of Western Europe.
- The Swan Fountain was made by Country Artists for the 800th anniversary of the granting of the Charter for Market Rights by King Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1196. Sculpted by Christine Lee and made of stainless steel and brass, the fountain was unveiled by the Queen in 1996.
- The Warwickshire Fire fighters memorial was unveiled in April 2009.
Firs Garden, Stratford-upon-Avon
This delightfully tranquil corner of Stratford was refurbished in 1990 in a joint project between Town and District Councils. The garden is named after ‘The Firs’, a nearby house no longer in existence. The famous novelist, Marie Corelli, bought the garden in 1910 to preserve the open space for the benefit of the town. The gardens now contain a range of planted beds and plenty of seating to enjoy the arrangements.
Recreation Ground, Stratford-upon-Avon
The ‘Rec’ as locals know it, is a large expanse of public open space, home to many important annual activities, including the Stratford Marathon. The space offers a range of facilities including football pitches, a pavilion, a bandstand playground, golf putting green and is the home of Avon Bowling Club. The large grass area is available for informal sports activities and general recreational use. The old chain ferry built in 1937 was refurbished in 2010 and is the last of its type to be made and used in Britain.
Shottery Fields, Stratford-upon-Avon
Also known as King George V playing fields, Shottery Fields were given to the town in 1937 by Sir Archie Flower. Found less than a mile west of Stratford-upon-Avon town centre, facilities include two football pitches, a rugby pitch and a playground.