Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church is Shakespeare’s final resting place

Holy Tinity Church
Holy Tinity Church. Photo © Lee Jamieson

Shakespeare's final resting place is inside Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK. This picturesque church teeters on the bank of the River Avon in the old part of the town and has become a Mecca for Shakespeare enthusiasts.

Shakespeare and Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church marks both the beginning and end of Shakespeare’s life. He was baptized there in 1564, three days after his birth in Henley Street, and buried in the chancel after his death in 1616.

Currently, you can still view the grave and read Shakespeare's epitaph engraved into the stone:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

It is popularly believed that Shakespeare was buried inside Holy Trinity Church as a mark of respect for his life’s achievements. In fact, Shakespeare bought tithe land from the church which gave him the right to be buried in the chancel. The investment cost him £440 and contractually obliged him to fund the church repairs, but there is no record of Shakespeare ever contributing money to the church.

It is ironic that, in recent years, Holy Trinity has become unsafe and is under threat of closure for health and safety reasons. However, it is known that the church was already in a state of disrepair only three years after the Bard’s death.

Shakespeare’s Seal Ring

An Elizabethan gold seal ring bearing the initials “W.S.” was discovered in the churchyard in the early 19th century.

Although the connection is purely speculative, some believe that the ring is the only surviving artifact that personally belonged to Shakespeare.

Shakespeare would certainly have owned a similar ring, but there is no concrete evidence that he lost it. However, Shakespeare’s will originally concluded with the words “I witness whereof I have herunto set my hand and seal.” The words “and seal” were subsequently crossed out and the will bears no seal.

Perhaps he lost it in the churchyard in the weeks before his death?

The ring is now owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and is on display at Shakespeare’s Birthplace.