Houses in Chapel Street
Of all the streets in the town centre, Chapel Street is the shortest, yet it contains some of Stratford's finest buildings. Not being a main shopping street, these buildings escaped the commercial pressures which have had such an adverse effect on many properties in the heart of the town. Instead of the inappropriate shop frontages which have undermined the character of so many town centre buildings, here in Chapel Street we find properties with their frontages more or less intact and their essential character preserved. The name Chapel Street came into use after the building of the nave and tower of the Guild Chapel in the 1490s, features which became very much part of the street scene. Before this date it was known as Corn Street, after the street market which was held at the north end, at the junction with High Street. It was a natural consequence that in 1626 it was decided to build the town's first Market Hall here. There was also a market area at the south end of the street, where a cross, known as the White Cross, stood opposite the Guild Chapel from about 1275 to at least 1608.
Much of the west side of the street was destroyed in the great fire of 1594 but one building that escaped was the Falcon, on the corner of Scholars Lane. This was originally a two-storied building dating from about 1500 but had an extra storey added a little clumsily in the seventeenth century. This alteration may have been linked to its becoming an inn, for Joseph Phillips, who bought the house in 1655. It is difficult to find another inn or public house in the town today with such a long and impressive pedigree.
Properties in Chapel Street studied in StratFire are listed below. For existing buildings, links are given to a short general description, a detailed documentary history, a building survey report and a dendrochronology (dating) report. For previous buildings, now demolished, there are a short general description and a detailed documentary history.
1 Chapel Street (Falcon Inn)
This was once an L-shaped plot, at one end facing onto Chapel Street (later known as No. 12) and also dog-legging out onto Ely Street as No. 1. The freehold of this property originally belonged the Stratford Corporation and before 1607 was leased out as a single unit, then was divided into two and leased out separately. Later in the nineteeth century the Corporation sold the freehold to the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Bank, already operating on an adjoining site on the corner of Ely Street. The bank itself was demolished in 1883 and rebuilt in flamboyant Gothic style, but including the residence of the bank manager on the site of No. 12.
12 Chapel Street (now HSBC bank)
This was once an L-shaped plot, at one end facing onto Chapel Street (later known as No. 12) and also dog-legging out onto Ely Street as No. 1. The freehold of this property originally belonged the Stratford Corporation and before 1607 was leased out as a single unit, then was divided into two and leased out separately. Later in the 19th century the Corporation sold the freehold to the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Bank, already operating on an adjoining site on the corner of Ely Street. The bank itself was demolished in 1883 and rebuilt in flamboyant Gothic style, but including the residence of the bank manager on the site of No. 12.
13 Chapel Street (HSBC bank)
The HSBC Bank stands on the corner of Chapel Street and Ely Street. On the south and west it was originally bounded by a dog-legged plot belonging to the Stratford Corporation with a frontage in each of the two streets. We know that buildings on that plot were badly damaged by fire in 1594/95 so the expectation would be that the buildings that then stood on the site of the bank would have been damaged as well. However, unlike the dog-legged plot immediately next door, the site of the bank (and its predecessors) did not belong to the Stratford Corporation. As a result, its history is less well documented and the buildings that stood there at the time of the fires have also long gone.
17-18 Chapel Street (Five Gables)
The ‘Five Gables’, now absorbed into the Shakespeare Hotel, is made up of a double-jettied range of five bays and two full storeys with attics, the latter with gables, one per bay. The three northern bays (III,IV,V) are somewhat wider than the southern two bays (I,II), perhaps reflecting an historical subdivision of the property. A long sequence of carpenter’s marks on the close-studded front elevation, however, shows that it is all of one build. Recent tree-ring dating, carried out as part of the StratFire project, has established that it was built in the early 1620s, since which time the street elevation has changed little.
Historic Building Record
Scientific Dating Report (interim)
21 Chapel Street (Chaucer Head Bookshop)
At some point the lease was assigned by the Corporation to Robert Gibbs, a yeoman, first recorded in March 1573/4 as paying the 12s. rent. In 1591, Gibbs negotiated a new lease of the property for 31 years at the former rent. In October 1594 he was appointed one of the two borough serjeants-at-mace. There is some indication in the Corporation accounts that he may have suffered losses in one of the 1594/95 fires and that, as one of the Corporation’s officers, he had been compensated for his losses. He was buried on 14 June 1596. There is no extant will or inventory but on 29 April 1597 the Council agreed to assign the lease to Julius Shaw. An initial survey of the timbers has not established a date when they were felled. Dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) largely depends on oak having been used in the building process whereas, in the case of No. 21 Chapel St, elm was almost exclusively used. This is more difficult to date and will need to be revisited.
Historic Building Record (interim)
Scientific Dating Report
22 Chapel Street (Nash's House)
In the 1590s a building on this site was in the hands of Richard Quiney, head of a family that dominated civic affairs for a hundred years. His family was linked by marriage to the Walfords, and William Walford had become the freeholder by the time of his death in 1624. By 1637 the house had passed into the hands of Susanna Hall, Shakespeare’s daughter, who had presumably bought it to expand the family’s property portfolio which already included her main residence next door, New Place. Susanna’s daughter, Elizabeth, had married Thomas Nash in 1626 and the couple may well have lived there until Nash’s death in 1647. Its front is Tudor replica built in 1912 to replace a brick and stucco front wall which in turn had replaced the original in the 1820s. Inside, however, many of the original timbers have survived.
Historic Building Record (interim)
Scientific Dating Report