Shakespeare's Church

Project dates: 
August 2011

The parish church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon is famous for being the burial place of the playwright William Shakespeare. It was here that he was baptised, and it is likely he worshipped here as a boy and young man. Shakespeare returned to Stratford-upon-Avon later in life and became a patron of the church, in whose chancel he was eventually buried in 1616.

For centuries people have come from around the world to visit Shakespeare's grave, and current visitor numbers total over 200,000 per year. But the focus upon this famous connection sometimes overshadows what is a hugely interesting church, one that has a deeper history and remains a vibrant place of worship and encounter with God.

Christianity and Culture worked with Holy Trinity to develop a digital tool to engage visitors and link the story of Shakespeare with that of the church itself. By exploring the visual and spiritual elements present in the church today, it is possible to weave a more coherent story - helping visitors learn more, not just about Shakespeare, but about medieval life, architecture and spirituality. These important concepts influenced each other greatly, and through a coherent interactive resource we can also see where and why these notions were portrayed in Shakespeare's writings (for example, both Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet contain references to the practice of dis-interring bones into a 'charnel house' - something Shakespeare evidently abhorred). The church was also keen to encourage visitors to explore and understand something of the history and life of the church in the four hundred years since Shakespeare's death and to offer an opportunity for personal spiritual reflection via a suggested Pilgrimage trail.

Project Brief

The proposed tool needed to be:

  1. engaging, providing visitors with an interactive way to explore their surroundings;
  2. easily-accessed, enabling a number of people to use the resource at any one time;
  3. extensible, allowing updated versions to be produced without significant additional cost;
  4. low-maintenance, minimising the presence of hard-copy literature and on-site equipment;
  5. cost-effective, ensuring a useful product could be made available to the maximum audience for a reasonable one-off cost.

While on-site displays/touchscreens, take-away CD-ROMs and web resources all offered elements of the above requirements, it was felt that a mobile phone application would best suit the circumstances.

The resulting app, Holy Trinity: Shakespeare's Church, is a guide to over 1200 years of history, literature and devotion in the parish church. Both Apple iPhone and Google Android are supported platforms. Features include:

  • Interactive panoramas of the church interior, with touch-able 'hotspots' containing further information.
  • 3D model of the church that moves through nine centuries of growth as you move the model on the screen.
  • Three guided 'trails' through the church focusing on Shakespeare's church, pilgrimage and hidden treasures.

Further Information