Our grants to local schools, community groups and charities is made possible by income generated by a mix of equity investments and the rental of commercial and residential property within the Trust's endowed portfolio. We have around 100 commercial properties all generating an annual rent for the Trust. One of our recent commercial tenants is Shakespeare Distillery, who are enjoying their new prime location in the centre of town. 

In 2020, 1 High Street became a second home to the Shakespeare Distillery, founded, in 2015, by Simon Picken and Peter Monks. They are producers of the award-winning Stratford Gin and newly launched Jester Rum. The distillery started life in a small industrial estate before opening their premises in Drayton Manor Drive just out of town, offering distillery tours and a gin school. With their gin experiences repeatedly selling out months in advance, the pair spotted an opportunity to expand their business in the town centre.

The effects of the Covid pandemic also had its part to play. Despite the negative impacts with the forced cancellation of their tours, their website sales of gin did remarkably well. This inspired them to look for a pop-up shop destination as a second site and when 1 High Street became available, they decided it offered the perfect solution.

Peter said: “As soon as we looked around, we knew it was perfect. The shelves were still up from the previous occupant so all we had to do was move in a till and our products and we were ready to go! We owe Stratford Town Trust a big thanks for enabling us to take these initial steps on a month-by-month basis so we could test out being a retailer, particularly against the turbulent backdrop of the pandemic.”

Once the lockdown of 2021 ended, the pair realised the huge potential of the location and secured a long-term lease to complement their existing Gin School and distillery tours. It also enabled them to work closely in partnership with local hotels and B&Bs. When the opportunity arose to also take over the upstairs unit, the idea of Judith’s Rum School was born.

Jen Pyatt, Marketing Executive said: “The look and feel of the building ties in brilliantly with our brand. It was once home to Judith Shakespeare, daughter of William Shakespeare and so we launched our new Rum School and tasting room with the name ‘Judith’s’. Our products use Tudor inspired ingredients and we describe our gin as having a twist of history. We’re really pleased to be bringing new life to this significantly historic building and the central location enables us to offer more choice to our customers and visitors to the town.”

Since occupying the building at 1 High Street, the independent retailer has gone from strength to strength, recently becoming a carbon neutral business and scooping four awards at the 2022 Stratford Herald Business & Tourism Awards including Top Attraction and Stratford-upon-Avon’s Business of the Year 2022. They now employ around 16 members of staff and offer cocktail masterclasses, Gin Tasting Cruises in partnership with Avon Boating as well as gin and rum schools. To find out more, visit: www.shakespearedistillery.com