Bancroft Gardens

The Bancroft Gardens, located on the bank of the River Avon and in front of the world famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre, attract over a million visitors every year.

The Bancroft was originally an area of land where the townspeople grazed their animals, and the canal basin formed the terminus of the Stratford-to-Birmingham canal, completed in 1816. The gardens also occupy the site of former canal wharfs, warehouses and a second canal basin, which 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 of Shakespearean characters are Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal, symbolising philosophy, tragedy, comedy and history.

The Country Artists Fountain was made for the 800th anniversary celebration of the granting of the Charter for Market Rights by King Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1196. The fountain was sculpted by Christine Lee and is made of stainless steel and brass. It was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996.

Bridgetown Community Woodland and Meadowland

Newly planted woodlands to the south of Stratford-upon-Avon town centre. The area consists of large open fields, sparse hedgerows, mature trees and a community orchard.

In 2014, the council planted 300 fruit trees in the community orchard consisting of a range of fruits typically found in UK orchards, specifically 21 varieties of apple, 4 varieties of cherry, 3 varieties of damson, 6 varieties of pear, 7 varieties of plum, 3 varieties of quince and 1 variety of medlar.

Rushbrook, the dismantled railway track, the calcareous mound (back-filled gravel pit) and ponds provide the important ecological and landscape features on an otherwise flat and open landscape.

Firs Gardens

This delightfully tranquil corner of Stratford-upon-Avon was refurbished in 1990, a joint project between the Town and District Councils.

'The Firs', a nearby house no longer in existence, lends its name to the gardens. When it was sold in 1910, Marie Corelli, the famous novelist, bought the gardens to preserve the open space for the benefit of the town.

The gardens are now home to a Peony Pavilion (2019), a gift to the District Council from the People's Government of Fuzhou Municipality in China. The Peony Pavilion is named after the great work of Tang Xianzu, who lived at the same time and died in the same year as William Shakespeare, 1616.

Recreation Ground

The Recreation Ground (or 'the Rec' as local people know it) on Swans Nest Lane in Stratford-upon-Avon is a large expanse of public open space and is home to many important activities, including the Shakespeare Marathon & Half Marathon and the Stratford River Festival.

The Rec offers a range of facilities and makes available a large grassed area for informal sports activities and general recreational use. The classic old chain ferry, of the winding manual type, was built in 1937 and was the last of its type to be made and used in Britain.

The facilities that can be found on the Rec include:

  • one 9v9 youth football pitch
  • pavilion (four changing rooms)
  • children's playground
  • children's cycle track
  • natural play area
  • paddling pool
  • outdoor gym
  • public toilets
  • bandstand
  • Avon Bowling Club
  • Stratford Adventure Golf

River Arrow Nature Reserve

The River Arrow Nature Reserve comprises of three fields adjoining the River Arrow close to the centre of the historic market town of Alcester. It forms a pleasant landscape containing a mosaic of habitats typical in lowland Britain, which are becoming increasingly rare. Among the fauna and flora present are kingfishers and the locally important small teasel.

To find out more about the River Arrow Nature Reserve, including a map of the site, please visit the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust website.

Shottery Fields

Shottery Fields, previously known as the King George V playing fields, were given to the town in 1937 by Sir Archie Flower and are found less than one mile west of Stratford-upon-Avon town centre. The facilities include one full size adult football pitch and a children's playground.

In 2023, six English Oak (Quercus robur) trees were planted in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.

Stratford-upon-Avon Nature Reserve

The newly created Stratford-upon-Avon Nature Reserve comprises of 71 acres of land within short walking distance north of Stratford-upon-Avon town centre. Visitors can enjoy the riverbanks, meadow grassland, reedbeds and wetlands. Parking spaces are available at Riverside Car Park, adjacent to Stratford Leisure Centre, and Fisherman's Car Park, Warwick Road.

Some of the land is in the ownership of College Estate Endowment Charity whilst a proportion of the land is owned by Stratford-on-Avon District Council. The whole area has been declared a Local Nature Reserve in accordance with a signed and sealed Nature Reserve Declaration.

To find out more about the Stratford-upon-Avon Nature Reserve, including a map of the site, please visit the Stratford Town Trust website.

Welcombe Hills and Clopton Park Nature Reserve

The Welcombe Hills and Clopton Park Nature Reserve combined comprises of 148 acres of land within walking distance north of Stratford-upon-Avon town centre. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful grassland or woodland walk and have a picnic. Woolly thistle, quaking-grass and the diminutive adder's-tongue grow in the grasslands, where ant hills created by yellow meadow ants are a distinctive feature. The woodland contains oak, horse chestnut and beech with English elm. Birds are plentiful, with great spotted woodpeckers, sparrowhawks, little owls, treecreepers and finches enjoying the woodland where ravens breed in spring. Brimstone butterflies are numerous in the spring sunshine.

The reserve may have got its name from a historic well found here, with its inscription 'SJC 1686'. Margaret, daughter of William Clopton (who died in 1592) supposedly drowned here. It was around this time that Shakespeare was writing Hamlet, and it is believed that this tragic event provided the inspiration for the character of Ophelia and her lonely death.

Other features include:

  • Victorian obelisk
  • audio walking trail
  • car park (entrance to Clopton Park - access via Clopton Road)

To find out more about the Welcombe Hills and Clopton Park Nature Reserve, including a map of the site, please visit the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust website.

Further Information

For more information on our green spaces, please contact the Streetscene team:

Contact: The Streetscene team

Last updated on 20/11/2023