Within a century the Guild became the dominant social force in the town, focused on the welfare of its members. In the 15th century, the Guild prospered. It built the Guild Hall, Schoolhouse and Almshouses that dominate Church Street today and a schoolmaster was employed to teach the members’ children. The Chapel in fact became so important to townspeople that the clergy of the parish church complained that people often attended the chapel rather than the church.
Standing across from Shakespeare’s final home, New Place, and right next door to his schoolroom, the Guild Chapel has long associations with the playwright and his family, and with the Clopton family too.
It was Hugh Clopton, wealthy local benefactor and Lord Mayor of London, who paid for the Chapel’s wall paintings to be applied in the early 1500s. And it was John Shakespeare – father of the playwright – who acted on the Royal order demanding they be defaced and covered up less than 70 years later.
Recently the subject of an exciting conservation project, conservators now believe the Guild Chapel’s walls display one of the few surviving pre-Reformation medieval schemes painted at the same time, and painted as one piece.