SARA Aspley, Stratford Town Trust’s Chief Executive, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Departments of Archaeology and History at the University of York.
Dr Kate Giles and colleagues from the University’s Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture have been working with the Trust for over ten years, researching the Guild Chapel’s remarkable surviving scheme of medieval wall paintings and their connection to the guild of the Holy Cross and adjacent Guildhall. This work underpinned the 2016 HLF-funded Death Reawakened project which conserved the Doom and other paintings, in partnership with architects Hawkes Edwards and conservators Perry Lithgow Partnership. The project was awarded the 2018 Sir John Betjeman award for conservation by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
Guild Chapel Volunteer Coordinator, Pippa Brook said, “Our work revealed tantalising glimpses of other paintings, such as the Dance of Death, currently hidden behind 20th century panelling in the chapel. Our volunteers and visitors are desperate to understand what survives and bring its story to life”.
“The MoU will enable Stratford Town Trust to undertake further research and hopefully secure funding for the next phase of this exciting project with our University partners,” noted Sara Aspley.
Dr Kate Giles, who has led the University of York project team and already secured funding for a range of interpretive resources for the Guild Chapel commented: “It has been a huge privilege to work with Stratford Town Trust on the Guild Chapel project, and it’s a great example of the way in which research can have impact on heritage and conservation practice. We are really excited to be working with the Town Trust as we explore how to deliver the widest possible access to these rare and hitherto rarely seen images.”
The MoU was signed in the Guild Chapel on the 25th February, following the funeral of Professor Ronnie Mulryne, of the University of Warwick, whose vision and expertise was crucial to bringing scholarly attention, including that of Dr Giles, to the Guildhall and Chapel. “We will miss Ronnie greatly,” said Kate, “but I hope he would be pleased that he inspired conversations that are revealing more and more about the significance of these buildings and the town, and their connection to the Shakespeare story.”
For details of the 2018 Sir John Betjeman award, see: https://www.spab.org.uk/news/john-betjeman-award-celebrates-wall-paintings-guild-chapel-stratford-upon-avon
To read more about the Guild of the Holy Cross and its buildings, read The Guild Building of Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon, edited by Ronnie Mulryne and published in 2012 by Ashgate.
To read Kate’s work on the Guild Chapel, see her article ‘Visualising the Guild Chapel, Stratford upon Avon’: http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue32/1/ and the Volunteers’ co-curated exhibition: http://collections.shakespeare.org.uk/exhibition/exhibition/shakespeare-connected-discovering-the-guild-chapelBack