The Guild of the Holy Cross played a significant part in governing the town. The Guild was gifted many properties in and around Stratford and some of the rental income generated was used to fund welfare facilities for its members, such as the employment of a schoolmaster and the building of almshouses. Holy Trinity Church served by priests living in the College was also gifted property in the town and had the right to collect tithes within the parish.
16th century - The Reformation
Both institutions were suppressed at the Reformation and their property confiscated by the Crown. This brought an end to the ‘welfare provision’ they had supplied and caused a breakdown in local government.
To meet this crisis, the townspeople of Stratford petitioned Edward VI for a charter and on June 25th, just nine days before his death at the age of 16, Edward granted it. This established the first Stratford Corporation and gave to it much of the property of the former Guild and College with specific responsibilities to provide a school, maintain the almshouses and pay the vicar
The Borough Council was abolished and two years later the charities were transferred to the new Town Council.
Following a report by the Charity Commissioners, the Town Council applied for a new scheme which led to the ancient trusts being transferred to a new charity: Stratford-upon-Avon Town Trust.
We’re still here supporting the Stratford community, through the grants that we make and as custodian of some of our treasured heritage, buildings and assets.