The Guild Chapel

Parts of the Guild Chapel may date back to 1269 when the Guild of the Holy Cross was given permission to build a hospital and chapel. The chancel was rebuilt in the 1450s and the nave, porch and west tower were reconstructed in the 1490s This later work was funded by Hugh Clopton (died 1496), a Stratford-born man who had prospered in London as a mercer – a dealer in textiles – and who served as Lord Mayor there in 1491. The interior was decorated with wall paintings, substantial parts of which survive.*

The Guild Chapel

The Guild Chapel

The Guild Chapel

The Guild Chapel

In the late 15th and early 16th centuries the walls were painted with a series of striking images. These all depicted the saints, the gates of heaven and hell, and other popular reflections on the afterlife. Following the Reformation, these images were banned, Elizabeth I passing Royal Injunction in 1559 demanding “removal of all signs of superstition and idolatry from places of worship”.

In Stratford, that Royal injunction was received by the Corporation of Stratford and John Shakespeare, father of the playwright, who was Chamberlain of the Corporation. Surviving council records show that in 1563 John Shakespeare authorised payment of 2s for ‘defasyng ymages in ye chappell’. Whether they were all covered at that time or at a later date is unknown. William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and it is quite possible the paintings, or some of them, were still visible during his lifetime. Speculation also surrounds John Shakespeare’s willingness to follow the orders he was given, with scholars long debating whether John and his family followed the Catholic faith the Reformation was out to suppress. What we do know is that rather than the paintings being defaced, they were largely limewashed over instead (only the face of the Archangel Michael in the Allegory of Death painting can be seen to have been clearly ‘defaced’ – literally scratched away). This limewashing actually served to protect the paintings, many of them in very fine detail.**

The Guild Chapel

10 Comments CherryPie on Jan 4th 2023

10 Responses to “The Guild Chapel – Stratford-upon-Avon”

  1. A lovely ancient door and wall paintings. In all the times I have been to Stratford I have never been in there. That must be rectified!

  2. ....peter:) says:

    the Guild Chapel is beautiful Cherie from your pictures it could be a cathedral….peter:)

  3. lisl says:

    An interesting story about the wall paintings, Cherie

  4. Ginnie Hart says:

    I have a feeling I’ve been inside this chapel, Cherry, back in 2010 when we had a Shutterchance meetup in Stratford. I wouldn’t mind going back there again!

  5. Astrid says:

    I do recognize this, Cherry. We were there in 2010 with a reunion with Shutterchance. Congrats on the 1000 miles to walk in the coming year, good luck. And I wish you many travels this year.
    Happy new Year to the both of you.