Roof Rot Hits Church Over Shakespeare's Grave

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Something is rotten in the city of Stratford-upon-Avon.

It's the beam that supports the roof over the grave of William Shakespeare, and the church were he lies is urgently seeking 50,000
pounds ($80,000) for repairs.

The Rev. Martin Gorick, vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, said the problem was discovered three weeks ago by workmen on the roof of the church, who were alarmed to find bits of the beam falling off.

The beam supports the roof of the chancel, the part of the church where the altar stands and where Shakespeare is buried.

"We were doing some urgent lead repairs anyway, and the workmen found the odd bit dropped off" into the chancel, Gorick said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. on Monday.

"It's safe to be here to visit, but it's pretty perilous to work on," he said.

The church has raised nearly 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) in the past seven years for restoration work on the building, which is about 800 years old.

Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity on April 26, 1564, and the church's burial register lists him as "Gulielimus, filius Johannes Shakspeare," (William, son of John Shakespeare.)

After a career writing and staging his plays in London, he retired to Stratford in 1611, and was buried on April 25, 1616. His wife, Anne Hathaway, also lies there.

Shakespeare was personally responsible for keeping the chancel in good repair after 1605, when he paid a sum of money to become a "lay rector," a position which also entitled him to a share of the tithe income of the parish.

He made a poor job of it: Within a few years of his death, the chancel was reported to be in a ruinous state.

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