Writing on Shakespeare's Walls
The Historic Graffiti in the Guild Chapel,
The historic graffiti in the medieval Guild Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon gives a wonderful insight into a world where writing on the walls was routine.
Barely visible without a torch, it has remained largely unnoticed and unexplored until now, despite the building’s close association with William Shakespeare and his family.
The Chapel is unique within Stratford: no other building in the town has such a broad range of historic graffiti. It tells the story of the Chapel and its famous neighbour in a completely new way, shedding light on the innermost thoughts of the people who have come and gone from the building for over five hundred years, some of whom may have been Shakespeare’s family and friends, perhaps even Shakespeare himself.
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The Chapel’s medieval graffiti reveals the hopes, fears and beliefs prevalent on the eve of Shakespeare’s birth; later graffiti reveals the changes in the way the Chapel was used during his lifetime, and changes in belief after the Reformation as graffiti gradually became more about recording a visit or remembrance. The absence of more modern graffiti tells its own story, and reflects the different attitude towards graffiti in churches, particularly as the Victorian period progressed.
The walls really do talk!