Guild Chapel

1128 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

May, 2016

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Reasons for trip

The Guild Chapel was built in 1269 by the Guild of the Holy Cross who were given permission to build a hospital and chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon for poor priests as well as offering masses for the dead of the Guild. The Guild was the heart of Stratford’s commercial, civic, social and religious life as well as providing a social ‘safety net’ for members who were ill and support for families when a member died. Most members were wealthy townsfolk but it also included the clergy and nobility. It grew in size and influence and was a significant land owner.

In the late C15th Sir Hugh Clopton left money for the rebuilding of the chapel and for the walls to be decorated with paintings. A magnificent Doom was painted over the chancel arch and the walls of the nave were covered with paintings of St George and the Dragon, the martyrdom of Thomas a Beckett and the Dance of Death. This”picture”: gives an impression of just how stunning the Guild Chapel must have looked like.

The Guild was suppressed during the Reformation. Its property was confiscated and granted to the newly formed Corporation of Stratford. John Shakespeare, William’s father, arranged for the paintings to be covered with limewash. They were rediscovered during building work in 1809 and copies were made of them before they were again covered. The paintings were rediscovered again at the beginning of the C20th. The Doom was covered by a protective layer of wax which has lead to the darken of the picture over the last century. More paintings were revealed when the gallery was removed in the 1950s.

Some of the paintings are in very poor condition and are protected by the wooden panels round the bottom of the walls. A major restoration project is due to start this year on conserving the Doom over the chancel arch and the Death Poem which is protected by a wooden panel. The chapel is remaining open during this work so visitors can watch the restoration.

From the outside, the outside of the chapel is a rather plain building with battlements and tall crocketed pinnacles. Its tower can be seen all over Stratford.

Inside, eyes are immediately drawn to the Doom painting above the chancel. The buildings in the top left hand corner represent Heaven. The remains of a semi circle can be seen at the top of the middle. This is all that is left of a rainbow. The figure of Christ above this has been lost as the ceiling of the church has been lowered.

There are more paintings on the west wall on either side of the organ. The figure in the arch to the side of the door is St George and the remains of the dragon can be seen on the west wall to the left of him.

Above the protective wooden panelling are large windows with plain glass, which flood the church with light. The pews face into the centre of the chapel and the candlesticks are now lamps.

The modern stained glass east window features notable Stratford characters including John Shakespeare and Sir Hugh Clopton. On the south wall is a memorial to Sir Hugh, erected by his descendent Sir John Clopton.

Hanging on the chancel walls are modern embroideries telling the legend of the Holy Cross and how Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine travelled to the Holy Land to find it. The location was revealed to her by Judas Cyriacus who had been imprisoned. She found three crosses on the traditional site of Calvary and checked which was the true one by placing each on the body of a young girl who had recently died.

This is a very attractive building which is open daily between 10.30-4.30. It is free to go in, although visitors are asked to leave a donation to its upkeep. The postal code is CV37 6EP and the grid reference is SP 201547.

There are more pictures “here.”:


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.