Elizabethan Stratford’s school was housed in the town's half-timbered guildhall. This was a building constructed by the medieval Guild of the Holy Cross over a hundred-and-fifty years before William Shakespeare was born.


In Shakespeare's time

The upper floor of the guildhall had become the schoolroom in 1553, when Stratford's newly-formed town council took over these buildings. In Shakespeare's time around forty boys would have been taught in this room, ranging in age from seven to fourteen. Boys sat on wooden forms, or benches, arranged facing each other along either side of the room.

16th century school scene

Shakespeare's School: the Elizabethan schoolroom

The Tudor curriculum was limited to the study of Latin, together with a little Greek and mathematics. At the end of each term, the older boys would have put on performances of plays by the classical Roman and Greek authors. These buildings were also the venue for drama when Elizabethan travelling actors visited the town.

 

 

"... around forty boys would have been taught in this room ..."

An early desk from the school

Shakespeare's School: the courtyard

The present day

Today, the board above the master's desk at the end of the room lists the thirty-seven headmasters who have taught in this room over the past four-and-a-half centuries. And the schoolroom, with its massive oak desks, continues to be used as a classroom by boys of Stratford-upon-Avon's King Edward VI School.


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Discover more about the daily life of an Elizabethan schoolboy from the feature Educating Shakespeare


 


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