The Guild Chapel: one of Stratford's best-known buildings.
Situated on the corner of Chapel Lane and Church Street, it overlooks the site of New Place, Shakespeare's Stratford home, in which he died, in April 1616.
It was largely built in the fifteenth century, as the chapel for the Guild of the Holy Cross, which was suppressed by Henry VIII.
In the following centuries the building was very poorly maintained hence the creation in 1954 of The Friends of the Guild Chapel.
The Friends of the Guild Chapel was formed in 1954 to drive forward a complete overhaul and continuing maintenance of the exterior fabric. Over the next thirty years the Friends undertook responsibility for the enhancement of the interior of the building and a phased programme of work to completely restore the decaying fabric of the building, financed initially by money raised by the Friends, and latterly the Town Council. The interior was completely overhauled and refurnished in the style of a college chapel at Oxford and Cambridge. New panelling and seating, together with altar and altar furnishings were added and the windows in the chancel restored with stained glass illustrating the history of the Guild and early Borough. Considerable money was spent on repairs to the roof, infested with dry rot and death watch beetle, and to the upper stonework of the tower. In 1964 the Friends restored the porch with its elaborate carved embellishments and the final major work, completed in 1983 was to renew the decaying stonework of the tower, nave and chancel. The friends refurnished the vestry in 1994 and installed a sound system. The most recent venture was to initiate a fund for a new organ. Over the last few years generous donations from many people and grants from the Town Trust have enabled this project to be realised and a splendid new organ has been built and installed by Principal Pipe Organs of York.
The Friends continue to undertake responsibility for the enhancement of the interior and promoting its use as an ecumenical venue and paying for the floral displays which enhance its simple grandeur.