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The Guild Chapel Unlocking the secrets of the past


© Main image: Copyright Philip Welch © Exterior image: Copyright Lindsay MacDonald


Stratford Town Trust is the proud custodian of the Guild Chapel. It is one of the most important surviving examples of a late medieval guild chapel in England, built by the guild of the Holy Cross and Hugh Clopton, Stratford-upon-Avon merchant and one-time Lord Mayor of London. It preserves one of the most intriguing schemes of late medieval wall paintings in England. Although the paintings were covered over in the 16th century, some may have still been visible to William Shakespeare, whose father John, was responsible for their partial destruction. They were seen again in 1804 and recorded by the Antiquarian Thomas Fisher. While some were then destroyed, the Dance of Death and others survive, hidden behind panelling installed by the 20th century architect, Stephen Dykes Bower.


Following the very successful Death Reawakened project in 2016 to conserve the chapel’s Doom painting, supported by the National Lottery (Heritage Fund), the Chapel has gone on to win a number of awards. Notably the Judges Discretionary Award at the UK Heritage Awards 2019, for which the Chapel was praised for its ongoing conservation and education work. A team of volunteer guides led by Volunteer Coordinator, Pippa Brook, works hard to share the secrets of the chapel with the 65,000 people who visit each year. In 2019, they were recognised for their significant contribution winning Team of the Year at the Pride of Stratford Awards.


If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Pippa Brook: pippa.brook@stratfordtowntrust.co.uk


Our team of volunteers have shared with us what they love about volunteering at the Guild Chapel:


‘As a history/art lover, I am really enjoying learning about the Chapel's history. As well as reading the materials that were provided as part of my volunteer induction pack, I am also doing my own research, which is addictive!’


‘I love meeting and talking to people from all over the world and have had many enjoyable conversations with visitors.’


‘I love it when visitors say they are grateful for the time that I spend with them - it's great to get positive feedback and makes me feel that I have added something of value to their visit.’


‘As a newcomer to Stratford- upon-Avon, I wanted to get involved with the town. Through the Stratford Town Trust and the Chapel, I am learning a lot about the town and its history. Best of all, I have made a wonderful new friendship.’


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