Stratford is one of England’s most historic and vibrant towns. Stratford-upon-avon is situated in the heart of the English midlands. A market town dating back to medieval times, Stratford is today most famous as the birthplace of the Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the town each year to visit the historic properties associated with Shakespeare, go to the theatre and enjoy the many attractions in the town and surrounding area. Warwick, Warwick district, administrative and historic county of Warwickshire, England, best known for its historic castle. Warwick originated at a crossing place on the River Avon and was fortified about 915. By 1086 “Warwic” was a royal borough with 225 houses, and William I ordered the castle to be enlarged. The present castle structure dates mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries and was the work of the Beauchamp family. In 1604 Fulke Greville took possession and converted the castle from a fortress into a dwelling. With its great size, its virtually intact structure, and its fine collections of paintings and armour, Warwick Castle has become a major tourist attraction of the English Midlands. The town developed around the castle. Only fragments of the medieval walls remain, but these include the east and west gates. Other buildings of note are Lord Leycester Hospital (14th–15th centuries) and Market Hall (1670). Much of the town was rebuilt after a fire in 1694. Today Warwick is an administrative centre and a market town.