Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Guild Chapel (Stratford-upon-Avon)

The Guild Chapel is a very interesting building in the old market town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

It is often written in books as "Gild Chapel", but the leaflet published by its "friends" organisation uses the more familiar "Guild Chapel".

The view of the chapel along the High Street would normally lead one to the assumption that this is the parish church. This is not so - Holy Trinity Church is further out, on the edge of town.

The chapel overlooks the site of New Place, where William Shakespeare came to live in his retirement and died.

It is the chapel of the Guild of the Holy Cross. In 1269 Godfrey Giffard, Bishop of Worcester, granted a license to the brethren of the guild to build a chapel and almshouses for the poor priests of the diocese.

The present building incorporates parts of the original chapel. The nave and the conspicuous tower were added in the 15th century, by which time the guild held political power in the town.

The guild, like so many others, was suppressed at the time of the Reformation, and the chapel and other properties were transferred in 1553 to the Bailiff and Corporation. It is thus in a most unusual position, being owned and administered by the town, rather than the church.

The chapel has regular services, and is otherwise open to the public.

It contains several mediaeval wall paintings, including a fine Doom Painting (representing the Day of Judgement) above the chancel arch. This was painted about 1500.

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