by Con McHugh

The annual Mass of Saint Benedict took place at the Guild Chapel in Stratford upon Avon at 7pm on Wednesday 19th July 2023.  

Mass was concelebrated by Parish Priest Fr Alex Austin, OSB and Fr Anthony Barrat who was visiting Stratford-upon-Avon. The hymns were well sung and could be heard outside in town centre attracting those passing to call in to see what was happening.

The Chapel is on the corner of Church Street and Chapel Lane and is one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s most iconic and important historic buildings. The Guild Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon 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.

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.

As a consequence, the Parish has been able to organise a Mass in the Chapel every year since 1996, apart from when the Chapel and the organ were being refurbished and during the lockdowns resulting from the Covid Pandemic.

Fr Alex and the parishioners of St Gregory the Great are most grateful to the Committee of the Trustees of Stratford upon Avon Town Trust and the Co-Chaplains for permission to hold their celebrations in the Guild Chapel. Fr Alex also wishes to thank those who helped organise the Mass and all those who attended.

Photo Gallery

Mass of Saint Benedict at the Guild Chapel