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.

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
First plaque outside the Guildhall

Spine walk
Historian Michael Wood doing the spine walk

Historic Spine

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

Articles in Focus Magazine

The following articles by Dr Robert Bearman on buildings along the Historic Spine appeared in the supplement to the Stratford Herald in 2013 and 2014:

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