Take a closer look at one of the fantastic attractions included with the Explorer Pass each month with our monthly feature Explore. Find out all about what the attraction has to offer and everything you need to know to plan a visit.
This month we are finding out about the schoolroom where William Shakespeare was educated and inspired to become the world’s greatest playwright:
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall is in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon and a visit will take you on a trip to an amazing time in England’s story
Suitable for Rainy Days
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall is a significant building to Stratford-upon-Avon and a national and international treasure, being one of only a few remaining examples of a medieval Guildhall in the country.
The Guildhall was constructed by the Guild of the Holy Cross between 1418 and 1420 and was the Guild’s headquarters. Over the next a hundred years or so more buildings were added including a Schoolhouse, a Chapel and Almhouses. By around 1530 the Guildhall was the most impressive complex of buildings in Stratford and in 1553 it became the headquarters of Stratford Borough Council. It remained the heart of civic life in Stratford for over 400 years.
In the 1560s the King’s New School (later known as King Edward VI School or K.E.S.) moved into the Guildhall and then, in 1571, a seven-year-old boy called William Shakespeare arrived at the school. Little did anyone know that he would go on to become the world’s greatest playwright! Shakespeare studied at the school until he was 14 and thanks to his father’s position as Bailiff (Mayor) and his role in licensing the performances of the professional players touring the country, it is believed that he would have seen troupes of the greatest actors of the time such as the Queen’s Men, the Earl of Warwick’s Men and the Earl of Leicester’s Men perform in the building. K.E.S. pupils still study in the Guildhall today.
For hundreds of years, generations of local people have used the Guildhall, cared for it and adapted it which has meant it has never fallen into neglect and kept its unique atmosphere alive. The building was opened up to the public as a visitor attraction in 2016.
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall is described as “one of the most atmospheric, magical and important buildings in the whole of Britain” by broadcaster and historian Michael Wood and a visit here will not disappoint!
Offering a window into Stratford’s past the outstanding timber architecture, rare historic wall paintings and rich legacy of fascinating stories make it a must-see sight for anyone with an interest in history and medieval life and times. Visitors can take part in a Tudor lesson with Tudor Schoolmaster, Master Thomas Jenkins, for a true taste of the past.
And then, of course, there is Shakespeare! As the place where William Shakespeare was educated and had his first experiences of professional theatre, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom’s unique legacy is entwined with his and it is incredibly inspiring to be able to step in his shoes and see the humble surroundings where it all began for him.
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall is a fantastic place for families too. There are lots of activities for younger visitors during the school holidays – from dressing up to quill writing and traditional Tudor games – that will not only inspire and entertain but will also bring history to life.
2020 marks the 600th anniversary of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall. This historic milestone will be marked with an exciting programme of public events, talks and exhibitions throughout the year. Keep an eye on their website for further details and to get involved.
11:00am – 5:00pm (Last entry 4:30pm)
Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Tel: 01789 203170
And don’t forget that entry to Shakespeare’s Schoolroom is FREE with the Explorer Pass!
You can find out more about how the pass works here.