Bedford Drive

Duke of Bedford

The Bedford name lies solidly within the Shakespearean tradition of Stratford’s street names and honours the Duke of Bedford about whom William Shakespeare wrote. Actually, the title of Duke of Bedford has been created six times for five distinct people in the Peerage of England.

Bedford School, on the turn of Bedford Drive, also follows the city's custom of naming schools after Shakespearean characters or places.

John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford (June 20, 1389 – Sept. 14, 1435) was a medieval English prince, general and statesman who commanded England's armies in France during a critical phase of the Hundred Years' War. He was the third son of King Henry IV of England, brother to Henry V, and acted as regent of France for his nephew Henry VI.

Bedford was a capable administrator and soldier, and his effective management of the war brought the English to the height of their power in France. However, difficulties mounted after the arrival of Joan of Arc, and his efforts were further thwarted by political divisions at home and the waverings of England's key ally, the duchy of Burgundy. In the last years of Bedford's life, the conflict devolved into a war of attrition, and he became increasingly unable to gather the necessary funds to prosecute the conflict.

Bedford died during the congress of Arras in 1435, just as Burgundy was preparing to abandon the English cause and conclude a separate peace with Charles VII of France. Source: Wikipedia

The Duke appears in William Shakespeare's plays Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 as John of Lancaster, and in Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1 as Duke of Bedford. By Stanford Dingman

John Horton played Sir John of Lancaster in Stratford's first production of Henry IV Part 1 in 1958. As an aside, that production had an amazing cast of stars: Christopher Plummer, Jason Robards, William Hutt, Douglas Rain, Douglas Campbell, Tammy Grimes and Peter Donat (see Stratford in Performance 1958).

Grant Reddick played the Duke of Bedford in the first production of Henry V, again with a wonderful cast: Christopher Plummer, William Shatner (Plummer's understudy), Jean Gascon, Bruno Gerussi and William Hutt. (see Stratford in Performance 1956).