Visiting the Bard: Stratford-upon-Avon (2)

Continuing where we left off in Stratford-upon-Avon.

I was ready to leave the area of the Holy Trinity Church, and was very impressed with the church. The churchyard was quite a nice one too and I would have liked to have spent more time in it. 

The one guide at the church  had advised me to look for the Guild Chapel in town as it was an interesting place, so with vague directions I retraced my steps to Bancroft Gardens. It was a hot day and there was a lot of activity on the Avon.

and there was even a chain drawn ferry…

I crossed over back into the craziness of streets and headed down a picturesque street, randomly taking photographs of the buildings.

And then I spotted a likely candidate and headed across to it. 

The Guild Chapel was light and airy but there was a small party of people in the middle of the aisle talking to a guide and I was not able photograph the interior the way I wanted to.

I poked around, hoping to find a leaflet or pamphlet to understand the context but did not find one. However, the internet has come to my rescue:

Founded by the Guild of the Holy Cross before 1269, it passed into the control of the town corporation in 1553, when the Guild was suppressed by Edward VI. The chapel stands on Church Street, opposite the site of William Shakespeare’s home, New Place, and has historic connections to Shakespeare’s family. The chapel was gifted an extensive series of wall-paintings by Hugh Clopton, an earlier owner of New Place, and John Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s father, undertook their defacement in the later 1500s. The paintings have recently been conserved.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild_Chapel)

“The painting above is Doom’ – a large ornate scene which can be seen above the Chancel arch. To medieval worshippers its imagery would have been immensely powerful, and it remains a striking  centrepiece today.

Doom is the Old English word for judgement and the Doom painting depicts the Last Judgement – Christ deciding the eternal destination of human lives. Doom paintings were commonplace in churches and chapels pre-Reformation; there to ensure people reflected on how they were living their lives. In the Guild Chapel’s Doom, Jesus sits on a rainbow in the centre, surrounded by four angels. Mary and St John the Baptist flank him on either side. On the left is the Kingdom of Heaven and all the good souls rising from their graves. On the right are all the sinners being tortured by demons and fed into the Mouth of Hell (depicted literally as a fanged serpentine creature which you can still clearly make out).” (Information from the Guild Chapel Website).  There was a similar painting in St Thomas and St Edmunds Church in Salisbury

It would have been interesting to hear the stories behind the paintings but it did not seem like that would be possible. Besides, it was starting to get late and I really needed to find that bus stop. 

Leaving the chapel I decided to continue with Chapel Street until I hit Bridge Street which was where the bus would stop (theoretically). Looking at Google Earth after the fact reveals that there was a lot more to see in this area so it may warrant a return trip one day.

The Falcon Inn

The Falcon Inn opened around 1655 although the building dates from 1624 and no other building in the town has had a longer continuous history as licensed premises. 

Bridge Street becomes Wood Street and I was now in the right place. It was just a matter of finding the bus stop.

And naturally at that moment the X18 Bus trundled into view and I followed it to where I had bailed out this morning. But, I was 30 seconds too slow as the bus pulled away before I reached the stop. The next bus was 13H05 and that was 30 minutes away. I decided that the time had come to hunt down a loo and take a further look around Henley Street and try solve the mystery of Shakespeare’s birthplace.

If anything the area was even more crowded and that image of the house evaded me. The building below is the Shakespeare Centre, and there did not seem to be a way to find out what went on in it without forking over at least £17.50. I gave it a miss, maybe next time.

It was time to hit the bus stop. If all went well I would only just be able to make my bus in Evesham without a long wait. However, the bus was 8 minutes late and then we got stuck in a traffic jam in Evesham for 10 minutes. By the time I got to my bus stop the bus had left 18 minutes ago and I was stuck till the next bus which left 45 minutes later. Such are the vagaries of of public transport.

Stratford-upon-Avon was in the bag and it had been an interesting morning. Return trip? maybe; there are quite a few other places in the town that I would like to look at, and of course there is that War Memorial in Bidford. It is do-able so one day there may be a “Return to” post.  Total image count was 336, and some more are reproduced in the random image collection below.

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