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Welcome to the Stratford Society
Your Local Civic Society charity registration No. 251182
The Stratford Society aims to protect the  heritage of our historic market town and its residents. Founded in 1966, it  offers non-political, professional expertise on the town's buildings and their  surroundings. It works with councils and other organisations locally and  nationally and promotes high quality design in keeping with the character of  this world famous and much visited town.
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Latest News
Members Members Meeting - Monday 17th October 2016 - 6.15pm at the Falcon Hotel


Pushing the Boundaries of Neighbourhood Planning

The meeting looks at the draft Neighbourhood Plan about to be submitted to the District Council for them to consult finally with Stratford residents by Referendum sometime in the first part of next year.

Mark Haselden, the Chairman of the Steering Committee set up to put the plan together and Sarah Summers, the Town Council Town Clerk will present the plan, and explain how it was developed and how it will be implemented once the townspeople have given their verdict on it. 

It is a chance to engage with some of the most pressing issues facing the town:

How to ensure there is more emphasis on quality design (a chance to pick up on out discussions at the September meeting)

How we protect shopping in the town centre 

How we can give a better balance between vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists in the town centre and surounds.

How our town centre heritage might be preserved.

Making the town easier for residents and visitors to enjoy.

What is to be done about congestion.

Ensuring the new housing is properly planned and designed

These and many other issues are tackled in a plan for the years when this town faces challenges which, if not unique, will define the town for many years. This plan follows up on the Council’s Core Strategy. It is robust and doesn’t shirk the tough questions.

It is an excellent opportunity to debate some of the essential questions we have to address. I do hope you can come along.

John Scampion

Chairman of The Stratford Society

Members Members Meeting - Monday 19th September 2016
Requiem or Renaissance

This was an evening dedicated to exploring the essential place of design of building- whether new or adaptation of old- in the protection of the heritage of the town. We had a presentation from Paul Burley whose theme was the failure of the authorities and the StratfordSociety in safeguarding our delicate historic heritage within the town- hence the “requiem”; and from Ollie Spicer- architect practising in the town with number of landmark modern buildings within his portfolio. Peter Burgess presented the society’s current experience.

This is not a detailed note of all the contributions which pleasingly were informed and wide ranging; the debate certainly did not resolve into a volleying of the traditional against the modernistic approach.

There was general recognition of the importance of design and many supported Paul’s rallying cry that we should not as a community be prepared to stand by and let inferior quality through for want of caring and for want of effort to protest our views. This “watchdog” role was part of the essential purpose of the Society which he felt we had neglected in recent times.

Ollie set minds working in setting out his views on the overall planning of the new communities given that Stratford like so many other towns was destined to have significant increases to its population. His vision was the Copenhagen model turning the British approach to planning on its head. Instead of following the usual pattern of agreeing swathes of new housing- as we have recently been doing here in agreeing the core strategy-and then somehow expecting the necessary infrastructure to come along afterwards, we should start off by identifying the essential needs of the Society we wish to welcome in the given location- transport networks and principles, social provision -and make sure that this is or will be put in place before or as the housing comes along. Ollie’s plea to lay alongside Paul’s is that we are now attempting to plan for generations to come whose needs and preferences we must make some real attempts to anticipate in a society changing so rapidly. There has been much discussion of the Danish model of the contented society which overturns many of our tried assumptions and which is the starting point for this planning concept.

Discussion ranged around these views. Some cited the experiments in Britain for new towns here in the West Midlands some of which had failed. There was recognition that new population was a given and that we must make sure that it is not allowed to impair what is there and what is valued. There is opportunity as well as threat. New population should bring with it new resources and with it a chance to create infrastructure to serve the new communities whilst protecting the town’s heritage. The key is effective strategic planning.

There were questions about the design of some of the new buildings- particularly on finish and scale. There were views about the iconic buildings and their place, as well about the aesthetically pleasing nature of architecture that is traditional and that blends. The two can be brought together but it takes care.

There was a sense that this is a continuing debate for the Society to stimulate and engage in as it fulfils its role to offer views and advice on design and development in the town.


September 2016

Members Private Tour of Ditchley Park Foundation, Chipping Norton - Tuesday 4th October 2016

We have the opportunity to take a private tour of this interesting property near Chipping Norton. The estate was bought by Sir Henry Lee in 1550 when he was made Ranger of the Wychwood Forest. Elizabeth 1 st visited in 1592 and caused him great expense!

The house was built by the 2 nd Earl of Lichfield, a member of the Lee family, in 1722, designed by James Gibb. Conferences were held here to ensure the UK and The United States of America had a venue for strengthening the transatlantic dialogue through discreet and relaxed discussions on matters of mutual concern.The first conference was in 1962 and have continued since.

Churchill used Ditchley as a war cabinet on the weekend November 9-11th instead of Chequers, which was considered an unsafe location. He held many subsequent weekend meetings here.

Details of visit:

Please meet by 2pm in the car park ready to begin tour at 2.15pm. Approx length of tour one and a half hours. Followed by refreshments.

Minimum of ten people.

Tour only…….£12.50. pp

Tour to include tea &biscuits…………………….£15.00 pp

Click Here to download a booking form

The Stratford Society Late Summer Party at New Place - Monday 5th September 2016

On Monday 5 th September 2016, the Chairman welcomed fifty members of the Stratford Society gathered in the warm early evening sunshine to enjoy a glass of fizz. We listened with rapt attention to our Vice-Chairman, Julie Crawshaw, who was the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Project Manager for New Place, as she took us through the challenges the team had faced: first, the rejection of the original scheme, then the approval of the second, only to be frustrated by new archaeological finds which meant the abandonment of the reflecting pool and a new concept for re-imagining Shakespeare’s final home. Then, another unexpected archaeological discovery to the rear of Nash’s House required the redesign of the foundations for the extension to the building and a further 21 weeks’ delay. And finally, the very wet conditions in winter and spring imposed further delays before the site could at last be opened to the public.

We then enjoyed exploring the site, wandering through the re-imagined New Place, the Knot Garden and the Great Garden, admiring the new and revisiting the old; forming small groups to exchange views before going off again to look at something else.Then into Nash’s House, now wonderfully transformed as the exhibition centre with particular emphasis on education. The new viewing platform at the rear was very popular.

As dusk fell, the discreet lighting cast a magic spell on the site (an unexpected bonus, not possible in July) but all too soon we reached our curfew at 8.00pm. Reluctantly we passed out through the mighty oak door and back into the twenty-first century.

Our thanks to Diana Owen and her team at New Place for allowing us the privilege of holding the first event at New Place and to Julie for her talk. Our congratulations to Diana, Julie and all those involved for the successful delivery of the New Place project.


Affiliated Organisations
English Historic Towns Link
English Heritage Link
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George Pragnell - Jewellers Link
CA Rookes Wine Merchants & Shippers Link