The Historic Spine - Stratford-upon-Avon

Until around 1200 Stratford was a village, with its houses clustered round the parish church. Then, in 1196, the lord of the manor laid out a grid of streets on adjacent land to establish a new town. This explains the separation of the church from today’s town centre. From the earliest days of this new town, the principal access to and from the church was by way of High Street and its continuation (Chapel Street, Church Street and Old Town). Along this route – the Historic Spine – are to be found the finest of Stratford’s buildings. Extended at the ‘town end’, it takes in Henley Street, an old route incorporated into the ‘new town’, and has been described as one of the most important literary walks in Britain. The Society is marking the key buildings along the Historic Spine by the installation of pavement plaques, indicated by P in the list below.

See the map below or the full online guide to the Historic Spine. A book is available, The Frieze: Shakespeare's Town, with panoramic drawings of the entire length of the Historic Spine and descriptions of all the important buildings. Research using dendrochronology has enabled more precise dating of some buildings. Some notable buildings were featured in a series of articles in the Focus Magazine.

Guildhall plaque
Pavement plaque installed in front of the Guildhall in 2019

Spine walk
Historian Michael Wood doing the spine walk in 2008

Spine Walk - Guild Chapel
Dr Robert Bearman leading a spine walk in August 2021

Spine walk - Holy Trinity Church
Spine walk terminus in the churchyard at Holy Trinity

Historic Spine

  1. Shakespeare's Birthplace
  2. Public Library
  3. Market House
  4. Quiney House  P
  5. 30 High Street
  6. No 17-18 High Street
  7. No 19-21 High Street
  8. Harvard House  P
  9. Garrick Inn 
10. Tudor House
11. Town Hall  P
12. HSBC Bank
13. Shakespeare Hotel
14. Falcon Hotel  P
15. No 20 Chapel Street
16. Julius Shawe's House
17. Nash's House
18. New Place  P
19. Guild Chapel  P
20. Guild Hall  P
20a. Old Vicarage  P
21. Almshouses  P
22. Town House
23. Windmill Inn
24. Mason Croft  P
25. Trinity College
26. No 1 Church Street
27. No 5 Church Street  P
28. Old Town Cottage
29. Hall's Croft  P
30. Dower House  P
31. Holy Trinity Church  P

Articles in Focus Magazine

The following articles by Dr Robert Bearman on buildings along the Historic Spine have appeared in the supplement to the Stratford Herald:

High Street:  No 1, No 11-13, No 14-16, No 19-21, No 27-28, Debenhams, Harvard House

Chapel Street:  No 5, No 20, No 21

Church Street:  Town House, Trinity College

50 Buildings:  Hidden History