By Con McHugh

The Guild of the Holy Cross, was established in the 13th century, and it became the heart of Stratford upon Avon’s commercial, civic, social and religious life.

The Guild of the Holy Cross built the Guildhall between 1418 and 1420. It was the Guild's headquarters. Over about a hundred years more buildings were added, including a Schoolhouse, a Chapel and Almshouses. By around 1530 the Guildhall was the most impressive complex of buildings in Stratford.

The Guild Hall Chapel dates back to the 13th century, with the nave and tower you see today being rebuilt in the 1490s. The Chapel is most famous for its superb medieval wall-paintings, especially a vivid scene of the Last Judgement.  The wall paintings were whitewashed in the 1560s because they didn't suit the new Protestant form of worship. John Shakespeare, William's father, oversaw the whitewashing because he was the town's Chamberlain at the time. But the covering of whitewash unintentionally preserved the paintings underneath, and they were revealed when the Chapel was restored in 1804.

Today the buildings are a window into Stratford upon Avon's past history.

In 1996, on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the charter granted to the town, permission was given by the Committee of the Trustees of Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council and the co-chaplains of the Chapel for a Catholic Mass to be held there, the first since the Reformation. This annual event has continued since then.

On Tuesday 10th July 2018 the Parish of St Gregory the Great celebrated its annual Guild Hall Mass at 7pm with Mass being  said by Parish Priest Fr Alex Austin , OSB . The Chapel  was full, with many of its parishioners attending. The singing was wonderful and rang out into the  streets of the town centre attracting many of those passing to call in  to see what was happening.

These photographs and more can be found on Flickr or via a link on the parish website 

Photo Gallery

Stratford Guild Hall Mass 2018