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18th Sep, 2021

Virtual tour explores legacy of medieval Stratford merchant

HUGH Clopton’s 15th century Stratford can shortly be explored online.

A new virtual tour – www.guildchapel.org.uk – in the company of a hungry apprentice painter will take people back in time to find out about the huge impact the wealthy medieval merchant had on the town before Shakespeare was even born.

People will be able to walk alongside the character of Kit, a fictional apprentice painter working on Clopton’s painting scheme for the Guild Chapel, as he reveals the Stratford of Hugh Clopton.

Born in 1446, Clopton made his fortune in Stratford and bequeathed money to the town on his death in 1496. He built and lived at New Place, later bought and lived in by Shakespeare, and rebuilt Clopton Bridge.

And he also paid for a set of new wall-paintings in the Guild Chapel, including a now-unique copy of The Dance of Death once in the cloisters of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The free, web-based tour can be accessed by mobile phone, tablet or laptop and PC. It has been developed by the Guild Chapel, part of the estate of Stratford Town Trust, with funding from The National Heritage Memorial Fund, distributing government money in partnership with Historic England.

The tour will be available from early August.

Pippa Brook, volunteer co-ordinator at Stratford Town Trust, said: “We are so excited to bring to life the story of Hugh Clopton using digital technology that can be accessed by all. The script has been co-created with our University of York colleagues and is brilliantly performed by a local actor, Pete, who really brings Kit to life.

“We are delighted to have used locally-based media company, Ignite Creative, to do the filming, extending the benefit of this funding to local creatives and businesses.”

Dr Kate Giles, Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture at the University of York added: “We are thrilled to have created this online resource with the Guild Chapel, Ignite Creative and Aunty Jen Productions and to have worked with the amazing Guild Chapel volunteers to develop a series of blog posts supporting the tour, that provide further information for visitors keen to know more about Hugh Clopton and his legacy.”

Rodger Palmer a Guild Chapel volunteer said: “It’s been great to bring our understanding of the kinds of questions visitors ask to help co-design this new tour – we can’t wait to welcome people back to the Guild Chapel again and share this new resource with them.”

* To find out more about joining the Guild Chapel’s award-winning volunteer team, call 01789 207117 or email guildchapelcoordinator@stratfordtowntrust.co.uk.

Pippa said: “Full training is given – you don’t need any prior experience to get started, but you do need to enjoy talking to people. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be part of a great team and a really exciting project, and to meet people from all over the world.”

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