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Academics to lead Guild Chapel talk

8 May 2017

THE RARITY and importance of Stratford’s Guild Chapel and its medieval wall paintings will be discussed at a special talk next month, given by leading conservators and academics.

The talk – taking place at the Guild Chapel from 7pm on June 1st – marks the end of the first phase of Death Reawakened; a Heritage Lottery-backed project to conserve and showcase the wall paintings.

It is open to all, free-of-charge, with any donations welcomed.

In March 2016, Stratford Town Trust announced it had been successful in securing a £100,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support Death Reawakened – a major project to conserve and showcase the Guild Chapel’s wall paintings, rare survivals of real national significance.

The conservation of two of the best-preserved wall paintings – the Doom and the Allegory of Death – began in the autumn of 2016 and is now complete, allowing visitors to see the paintings in detail not seen since the 16th Century.

Conservators have also discovered fragments of the Life of Adam and the Dance of Death, behind the wooden panelling running down both sides of the Chapel. The uncovering of these previously undocumented paintings dating back more than 500 years, caused a huge stir of excitement, with the conservators concluding The Guild Chapel is one of only a handful of places in Europe to have an almost complete medieval decorative scheme still in situ.

With a story dating back to 1269, the Guild Chapel is one of Stratford’s oldest and most important buildings, with a fascinating history and long associations with the Shakespeare family.

Standing between Shakespeare’s schoolroom and his final home at New Place, it would have been a permanent fixture in his life. And it was the playwright’s father that received the royal order to limewash the Chapel’s wall paintings in 1563.

The Chapel has long associations with the Clopton family too; Hugh Clopton paying for the wall paintings to be applied in the 15th Century.

The talk will be led by conservators Richard Lithgow and Mark Perry, and academic Kate Giles.

Richard and Mark are the Directors of the Perry Lithgow Partnership, which carried out the conservation work at the Guild Chapel last year.

Established in 1983, the Perry Lithgow Partnership Ltd operates throughout the UK and Ireland specialising in wall paintings, panel paintings and paintings on canvas and stone. The partnership has undertaken many prominent projects, from Hardwick Hall to the Palace of Westminster, and acts as Wall Painting Conservation Advisers to the National Trust.

Kate Giles is a Senior Lecturer at the University of York, where she is also Acting Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities and Acting Director of the Humanities Research Centre. She is Director of Studies for the Archaeology of Buildings programme, and has a particular passion for late medieval and early modern public buildings, specifically guildhalls. She has worked closely on the halls of York and more recently been involved with major projects in Boston and here in Stratford.

Kate’s particular interest is in the inter-relationship of people and buildings, in the past and present. Most recently projects at Stratford upon Avon and Pickering have also led her to collaborate closely with wall paintings specialists, and tonight’s talk will emphasise the important role of specialists in informing academic research and the future management and conservation of buildings such as the Guild Chapel.

At the end of the talk, there will be a chance to enjoy a drink and take a closer look at the paintings.

There is no need to book a place, please just arrive on the night.

For more information please call 01789 207117 or click here to go to the Guild Chapel's new website

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