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Stratford-upon-Avon, Holy Trinity Collegiate Church


Registers of baptism, marriage, burial, and other church registers, 1558-1990 Church management, 1784-1990 Clergy, 1774-1963 Charities, [1818-1988] Music, 1839-2005 Shakespeare, 1844-1970 Church history, 1951-1959 Other bodies, 1829-1968 Miscellaneous, 1920-2006

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    127 vols, 48 files, 299 docs, 2 bdls, 1 tape

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Related material

Other archive collections of interest include scrapbooks of the Reverend W J Harrison (ref DR466); graveyard surveys, (ref DR467); and records of the Churchwomen's Group (ref DSHTCG) Musuem collection items of note include paintings of church interior and exterior (refs SBT 1994-19/49, 61, 76, 90, 104, 120, 153, 189, 262, 265-266); fragments of medieval tiles (refs SBT 1999-25/1-2); pencil and chalk drawing of Holy Trinity by Turner, 1837 (ref SBT 1999-27); watercolour of church interior, 1836 (ref SBT 2001-41); model font (ref SBT 2006-22/2); sections of wood apparently from Holy Trinity Church (refs SBT 2007-21/1-2, 6, 7 and SBT 1930-3/6 and SBT 1868-3/69); watercolour of 'The Old Charnel House' at Holy Trinity by Thomas Girtin, 1790s (ref SBT 1939-25); fragment of stone from Holy Trinity Church, undated (ref SBT 1970-5); Holy Trinity celebratory church serice recording; 20 Jun 1984 (ref SBT 1989-27/94)

Admin History

The earliest parts of the Collegiate Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity are the tower and transepts which were built c. 1210. It is likely this was an addition to an earlier, smaller building on the site of the present chancel; a Saxon monastery is said to have stood on the site of Holy Trinity and the Domesday Book also records a priest in the town. During 14th century, the tower was reconstructed, the nave widened and arcaded, the north aisle enlarged, and the south aisle built as the chantry chapel to St Thomas Becket (This coincided with the building of the College of Priests nearby). Further work was undertaken by Dean Thomas Balsall who, in the late 15th century, had the chancel completely rebuilt in Perpendicular style adding the north porch (with muniment room on the upper floor) and an annex onto the north side of the chancel. Like the north porch it had two floors: the ground floor was a charnel house, the upper floor later housed a study for the cleric and a dormitory for the four choirboys of the chantry who were endowed by Dean Ralph Collingwood. The charnel house was demolished in 1801, roughly coincident with the College; the external appearance of Holy Trinity today is as it was in 1801. By 1830s, Holy Trinity was in need of repair and a series of restorations and improvements took place in the 19th century. These included pews and galleries put in place in 1839 (galleries later removed in 1886); restoration of the organ; repair of the spire. Around 1925 the south transept was adopted as a war memorial, the screen to the transept being made of timber from HMS Britannia The playwright and poet William Shakespeare is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity along with his wife Anne, their daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall. While there appears to have been some visitors to Shakespeare's grave during the 17th century, visits to Holy Trinity for this purpose only gained traction after the 1769 Jubilee. The first surviving visitors' books date from 1844 and admission fees toward the upkeep of the church were charged from 1871/2. Holy Trinity became part of the newly established Diocese of Coventry in 1919 (previously belonging to the See of Worcester) and is currently a united benefice with St Helen's in Clifford Chambers and All Saints in Luddington. Historically, the church was linked to Stratford College which was founded for Holy Trinity's chantry priests. The College was suppressed during the Reformation and the College tithes and lands were granted to the Borough which was responsible for paying the stipends of the vicar and the schoolmaster. However, the Borough was not responsible for the appointment of the chaplains. More recently in the 20th century, Holy Trinity also had links with Shottery St Andrew and was mother church to St James the Great in Stratford. Sources Bloom, Rev. JH, Shakespeare's Church: otherwise the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity of Stratford-upon-Avon, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1902 Horsler, Val, Shakespeare's Church: A Parish for the World, London: Third Millennium, 2010 Styles, Philip, The Borough of Stratford-upon-Avon and the Parish of Alveston, London: OUP, 1946 (reprinted from Victoria County History of Warwickshire, vol 3, 1945) Wheler, RB, A Guide to Stratford-upon-Avon, Stratford-upon-Avon: J Ward, 1814