Holy Trinity ChurchStratford upon Avon
Old Town 
Warwickshire CV37 9BG
 
 

The Stratford-upon-Avon Holy Trinity Church is known worldwide as the burial place of England’s best known poet and playwright, William Shakespeare.

Obviously because of the William Shakespeare connection, it is a magnet for visitors. However, it is a working Parish Church and as such is subject to closures for weddings, concerts, funerals etc. Closure times are listed on the Church notice board in the Churchyard. Subject to these closures, visitors to the Church are most welcome!

The approach to the Church is along an avenue of lime trees, said to represent the twelve Tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles.
 
The present limestone church was begun in 1210 and the oldest part of the church can be seen at the crossing. Above the vaulted ceiling is the bell ringing chamber in which hangs the magnificent ring of ten bells.
 
Main Door
The interesting small door let into the massive 15th century main doors is just big enough to allow one person through at a time. On this small door is a sanctuary knocker. Fugitives from justice could grab the ring and claim 37 days safety before facing trial.
 
The church porch was added to the building c. 1500 AD and has a room above it reached by a narrow spiral staircase. Externally the church has changed little since Shakespeare’s time.

History of the Church
There is evidence in the Anglo-Saxon Charter of 845 that a church existed on the banks of the Avon in Stratford. This church would have been a wooden structure and no physical evidence of it now exists. This church probably would have been replaced by a Norman stone church but no evidence of these remains either.

During the medieval period the trade guild, the Guild of the Holy Cross, was formed and the church benefited a great deal from its wealth. It also received benefices from being given a College of Priests. The church was expanded and rebuilt in the Gothic Perpendicular style. The Guild built the tower, and the College built the side aisles and rebuilt the Nave. The magnificent carved misericord seats in the chancel date from this period – they are worth studying - one of the carvings depicts a man and woman fighting!
 
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The Clopton Chapel
An interesting chapel in the Church is The Clopton Chapel. Formerly the Lady Chapel, it gets its name from Stratfordian Hugh Clopton who became Lord Mayor of London and a great benefactor of Stratford and the Church. He rebuilt the Guild’s Chapel and provided the stone bridge across the river known as Clopton Bridge. Clopton had a magnificent alter-tomb built in the then Lady Chapel, however he was in fact buried in London.

After the Reformation, Hugh Clopton’s descendants claimed the Lady Chapel as their own and it now contains the finest Renaissance tomb in England, that of George Carew and his wife Joyce Clopton. Carew was King James I’s Master in Ordnance, hence the canon on the tomb.
 
St Peter's Chapel window - A Gift from the American People
In the south transept is St Peter’s Chapel. The window there is interesting and was given to the Church a hundred years ago as ‘The Gift of America to Shakespeare’s Church’. The American Ambassador attended the dedication ceremony. Christmas cards featuring the detail of this window can be purchased from the bookshop.

The Shakespeare Connection
In the 16th century King Henry VIII dissolved the Guild and College, and sold off revenue raising assets (privileges) of the church leaving the church destitute. The church was dependent on the town for its continuance. This is where William Shakespeare comes in.
 
In 1605 he bought a share in the privileges giving him and his family the right to be buried in the Chancel of the church. As several generations of the Shakespeare family had attended Holy Trinity, were baptized and buried there, it was appropriate that William would become a benefactor of his family church.

Also buried in the Chancel is his wife, Anne Hathaway; his daughter Suzanna and son-in-law Dr John Hall and John Nash, the first husband of Shakespeare’s grand-daughter Elizabeth.

Every year, on the Saturday closest to St George’s Day (23 April), the Holy Trinity Church hosts a wonderful pageant. This pageant takes the form of a procession led by the boys of King Edward VI Grammar School (Shakespeare’s old school). After processing through the streets of Stratford, all then file through the Church and lay their floral tributes at the Bard’s grave in the Chancel. This is all to the sound of the Holy Trinity Church bells and the music of its organ.
 
Plan Your Visit
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Opening Hours
The Church is open to visitors 7 days a week.
It is closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and subject to closure at short notice. Check the Church notice board in the Churchyard.

March & October           Mon - Sat 09:00 – 17:00
April – September         Mon - Sat 08:30 – 18:00
November – February    Mon - Sat 09:00 – 16:00 
Sundays   12:30 – 17:00
(Last admission 20 minutes before closing)

Admission Cost
Free except for advertised concerts and special events.
A donation is requested to assist with upkeep of the Church..

Disabled Access
The entry has one small step – Church staff will assist by placing a ramp. There are no steps within the building. Daytime disabled toilets (closed at 18:00) are in the Theatre Gardens. RADAR key is available – ask staff in the book shop or Parish Centre Office.
 
Facilities
A well stocked gift shop is situated at the back of the church.
 
Contact & Further Information
Office hours: Mon - Fri: 10:00 – 13:00 (except public holidays)
Telephone   +44 (0)1789 266 316
Mail   .">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website   Holy Trinity Church Website
 
Google Map - Holy Trinity Church