2019 Lecture Series

A series of six lectures was held during autumn 2019, entitled Holy Trinity Church: Before and After Shakespeare. It was organised by the Friends of Shakespeare's Church in tribute to their former Chairman, the late Professor Ronnie Mulryne. The talks dealt with topics related to the history of Holy Trinity Church, from medieval times to after the English Civil War, approximately 1450 to 1650. The following is a summary of the lectures with links to audio recordings where these are available:

1. Sandra MacDonald MA - Medieval Deeds, Altars and the Liturgical Year

Medieval grants and leases and other contemporary sources reveal much about worship in Holy Trinity, in particular the large number of altars in operation. The building in which we worship now is a dim reflection of its medieval ancestor which was a vibrant, colourful and busy place, where worship was conducted in a blaze of lights. These were extinguished along with profound beliefs in many of its cherished saints in the seismic religious turmoil precipitated by the English reformation.

2. Dr Sylvia Gill - The College of Priests

For nearly 450 years the College was the largest building in Stratford, apart from the Church. From its founding in 1352 to 1547 it was home to the priests who served the chantry chapel of St Thomas Becket in the Church. After the Reformation it languished in private ownership, apart from a brief flurry of activity in preparation for Garrick's Jubilee in 1769, until it was demolished in 1799.

3. Dr Robert Bearman - The Vicar and the Bawdy Court

From 1553 until well into the 18th century, the vicars of Stratford-on-Avon claimed the right to preside over a court held in the church, to ensure observance in the parish of what were then deemed to be the church’s responsibilities. Some of these would seem to be quite outside the bounds of ecclesiastical jurisdiction ‒ abuse, scandal and defamation; drunkenness; the oversight of school teachers and physicians; the proving of wills, and above all, sexual misconduct, leading to the nickname of 'Bawdy Courts' applied to them by contemporaries.


4. Rev Dr Paul Edmondson - The Church that Shakespeare knew

The year is 1614 and we take an imaginary journey around the church at the side of Master Shakespeare. Along the way we note the architecture of the building, the tombs, the windows, and the charnel house. But what of Hamnet's grave?

5. Mairi Macdonald MA - Puritanism and the Ejectment

Puritans and dissenters regarded the reformation of the Anglican Church under the successive reigns of Elizabeth, James and Charles as incomplete, and they called for further reforms. Whereas puritans had been in the ascendancy through the Civil War and Commonwealth, after the restoration of Charles II in 1660 they were expelled from their parishes by the process of 'ejectment' In Stratford this befell the vicar Alexander Beane, despite his popularity with both the Corporation and the congregation.

6. Dr Lindsay MacDonald - The King James Bible
The King James Bible, published in 1611, owes much to the flourishing of scholarship in Greek and Hebrew during the previous century, especially the work of William Tyndale. The Bible at Holy Trinity shows signs of violent treatment during its early years and was rebound in 1695. It has recently been undergoing further conservation.