“GOOD FRIEND FOR JESUS SAKE FOREBEAR,
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOSED HERE.
BLESTE BE YE MAN YT SPARES THESE STONES,
AND CURSED BE HE YT MOVES MY BONES.”
These are the words carved into the tomb stone of William Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church on the banks of the river Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon in which more than 200,000 tourists visit the church each year.
The church is Stratford-upon-Avon’s oldest building with its oldest parts dating from 1210 and built on the site of a Saxon monastery. John de Stratford founded a chantry in the fourteenth century and this was later rebuilt by Thomas Balshall (who is buried at the church) between 1465 and 1491. It is believed that the building originally had a wooden spire which was replaced by William Hiorne (who was an architect and builder based in Warwick) in 1763. Holy Trinity’s features, include:
- A 14th-century sanctuary knocker in the church’s porch (built c. 1500)
- Twenty-six 15th-century misericord seats in the chancel, with religious, secular and mythical carvings
- Several large stained glass windows featuring major English and Biblical saints at the church’s east and west ends
Stratford-upon-Avon’s most famous resident William Shakespeare was baptised at the church on 26 April 1564 and was buried there on 25 April 1616, the church still owns the original Elizabethan register which gives the details of his baptism and burial although it is now kept by the Shakespeare birthplace for safe keeping.
William Shakespeare would have gone to Holy Trinity every week when he was in Stratford and his wife Anne Hathaway is buried next to him along with his eldest daughter Susanna.
The church is open to visitors for much of the year. A small contribution is requested to access the chancel and sanctuary in which Shakespeare is buried.