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History of the Playhouse

The History of Stratford Play House

It has been all change round here at the moment but Proon Productions have been welcomed by the other businesses with whom we now share a building. And you may not realise it but there are quite a few – Herbs and Accupuncture for example, then Charles Saville Estate Agents, DG Services, Chris Wheeler, Greenwood Planning, Much Ado About Insurance, Stratford Projects, Fred Theatre, Cloud Book Keeping, The Orchestra of the Swan and the Gods on Mount Olympus themselves – the Stratford Town Trust. So it is indeed an interesting place and it has an appropriately interesting history. The story starts when Rother Street was established during the laying out of Stratford as a planned town in 1196. Rother is an Anglo Saxon word for cow and, appropriately enough, it was home to a cattle market.

Then, a mere 634 years later, two fine plaster stuccoed villa-type houses were built on 14 and 15 Rother Street in 1830. In June 1841, JM Sanders Esq is cited as living in the buildings – known as Rother House, Rother Street. In 1850, he sold them to a diocesan priest for £1,250 and the priest fitted them out as a catholic chapel, a library and a little school in 1852. Five years later, the priest became ill and sold them.

In 1876, it became Stratford upon Avon Convelesence Home. In its first year, 139 patients were admitted, needing care. Emily Minet, a 36 year old nurse was appointed as the Lady Superintendent of the Institution. The local population were very supportive. In 1940, it became a private maternity hospital but, after the advent of the NHS in 1948, it was sold for £30, 000 to Stratford Corporation, an early ancestor of Stratford Town Trust. In 1985, the Civic Hall was built as a recreational venue directly behind the two Rother Street building. I’m sure many of you will remember this period or the one, immediately afterwards when it received a million pound makeover and was renamed Stratford Arts House.

Now, though, Proon Productions are here. A new era. We hope you enjoy it.