The guild buildings of Shakespeare’s Stratford represent a rare instance of a largely unchanged set of buildings which draw together the threads of the town’s civic life. With its multi-disciplinary perspectives on this remarkable group of buildings, this volume provides a comprehensive account of the religious, educational, legal, social and theatrical history of Stratford, focusing on the sixteenth century and Tudor Reformation. The essays interweave with one another to provide a map of the complex relationships between the buildings and their history. Opening with an investigation of the Guildhall, which served as the headquarters of the Guild of the Holy Cross until the Tudor Reformation, the book explores the building’s function as a centre of local government and community law and as a place of entertainment and education. It is beyond serious doubt that Shakespeare was a school boy here, and the many visits to the Guildhall by professional touring players during the latter half of the sixteenth-century may have prompted his acting and playwriting career. The Guildhall continues to this day to house a school for the education of secondary-level boys. The book considers educational provision during the mid sixteenth century as well as examining the interaction between touring players and the everyday politics and social life of Stratford. At the heart of the volume is archaeological and documentary research which uses up-to-date analysis and new dendrochronological investigations to interpret the buildings and their medieval wall paintings as well as proposing a possible location of the school before it transferred to the Guildhall. Together with extensive archival research into the town’s Court of Record which throws light on the commercial and social activities of the period, this rich body of research brings us closer to life as it was lived in Shakespeare’s Stratford.
J. R. Mulryne is Professor Emeritus at the University of Warwick, UK.
'This collection, edited by the distinguished Shakespeare scholar J.R. Mulryne, brings together ten consolidating and ground-breaking essays... This book is the most rigorous scholary and scientific investigation to date of the Guild Buildings. It serves too as a timely reminder of how close we can still get to Shakespeare’s world in Stratford.' Around the Globe 'This timely collection brings a new depth to the history of Stratford and to the background of its most famous son.' The Shakespeare Blog 'The aspects covered in the meticulously researched papers range from a historical sketch of the history of the Guild of the Holy Cross, the early teaching syllabus of the Guild School and the Stratford Court of Record 1553-1601 to the latest archaeological findings and the professional troupes that came to stay and play their repertoires, in the Guildhall and elsewhere. In the age of a perhaps deceptively familiar globalized Shakespeare, this essay collection is a reminder that in the early modern age the global had to start with the local.' Shakespeare Jahrbuch 150 ’The Guild and Guild Buildings of Shakespeare’s Stratford should be of interest to historians and literary scholars alike. In addition to the floor plans and many photographs, the book provides useful bibliographies and appendices transcribing documents or otherwise compiling information relevant to the study of drama in the market town.’ Seventeenth Century News