The Guild Chapel, overlooking the site of New Place where William Shakespeare lived in retirement and died, is one of Stratford-upon-Avon's most historic and beautiful buildings. It was founded over 700 years ago and has an unusual and interesting history.
The fraternity or Guild of the Holy Cross was already in existence in 1269, when Bishop Godfrey Giffard of Worcester granted a licnce for the brethren of the Guild to build a chapel and to found a hospital for the poor priests in the diocese.
The present fabric of the chancel of the Chapel incorporates portions of the original building, but the nave and tower were added in the fifteenth century. By this time the Guild of the Holy Cross had come to be an influential religious fraternity, owning properties and occupying a position of authority in the town. It had an extensive membership and business organisation.
Following the suppression of the Guild at the Reformation, the Chapel, together with the Guuild's other properties, was granted by the Crown in 1553 to the Bailiff and Corporation of Stratford, later Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council, until the formation of the Town trust in 2001. It thus enjoys tyhe peculiar position of being in the ownership and control of the Trustees rather than of an ecclesiastical body
The Guild Chapel has played an important part in the life of the community from early days, and was without doubt one of the buildings particularly familiar to Shakespeare. For generations it has served as the Chapel of the Grammar School adjoining, which was also founded by the Guild. It is used as a chapel of unity, with a service of Holy Communion held every Wednesday morning and other occasional services.