Shipston-on-Stour has a delightful collection of buildings from different eras and reminders of its well documented past. It also has a good selection of shops, restaurants and visitor accommodation. There are some very picturesque villages within striking distance and it is a perfect base for exploring both Shakespeare Country and the Cotswolds.
The beauty about Shipston-on-Stour is that it has not been affected by development. The grand Georgian buildings tower over the small market town which used to be home to one of the largest sheep markets in the country. St Edmund's parish church with its 15th Century tower, stand over the main street.
For a town of its size the history of Shipston is extremely well documented. It is not known when Shipston was first settled, probably before the Romans came, but it was sufficiently well developed in the 8th century for it to become a gift from the Saxon under-king Uhtred to the Bishop of Worcester. The town became known as 'Sheep-wash-town' because the river was used for the washing of sheep in early summer before they were moved up to the higher Cotswold pastures after lambing in the muddy lowlands.
Shipston was already a trading post when its Prior obtained a Charter for an annual fair and a weekly market in 1268 which allowed him to charge tolls at the market place. By 1280 Shipston Bridge had been built and the plan of modern Shipston was settled. Spinning and weaving were two of the main businesses in the town and at the end of the 17th century John Hart built up a large organisation employing home workers in the manufacture of woollen velvet (called 'shag'). Hart became very wealthy and was appointed High Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1738. The poverty after the Napoleonic Wars was devastating and eventually led to the building, in 1835, of the Workhouse, later known as Shipston House. Nonetheless the town's shopkeepers enjoyed prosperity with over 90 retail outlets covering every trade and profession. The opening of the London to Birmingham railway in 1838 brought an end to this very profitable era. However, a recent visitor survey of the towns paints a picture of a strong visitor destination where the quality of shops and customer service headline.