The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

T Spender Wood & Laurence Williams of Wood, Kendrick and Williams
Date Built
1962 - 1964
Henley Street
The centre of Stratford-upon-Avon offers a wide variety of architectural styles, but nowhere is the contrast of styles more pronounced than on Henley Street where a small garden separates the medieval timber framed house, that was Shakespeare's birthplace, and this concrete framed building that is home to the headquarters of the International Shakespeare Society and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. 

However incongruous some might think this building is, it should be pointed out that on the recommendation of English Heritage it was given a Grade II* listing.  In making this recommendation they highlighted, " ... the quality of its design and execution." adding that their recommendation was given on the basis of the buildings,  " ... exceptional quality and (the) extent of its artistic embellishment and its internationally important cultural connection with the heritage of William Shakespeare." 

Outside you can see this relief sculpture by Douglas Wain-Hobson (shown below).  His brief was to demonstrate, "Shakespeare’s contribution to the world."   Wain-Hobson said of his creation that, "On the left the blocks represent Shakespeare’s works, with sonnets and poems being one slightly larger block in the middle. These are embraced by a large fan-like shape moving vigorously down, sweeping towards and encircling the world. This shape is the active power and genius of the man. The square shape behind, made up of boards represents the theatre."

Inside visitors will discover a bronze statue of Shakespeare created by Wain-Hobson which the centre describes as, " ... standing 8.5 feet high and weighing half a ton. ... The figure, dressed in unadorned Elizabethan doublet and hose, holds a quill pen and a blank writing sheet, but the artist’s sense of humour and commitment to his commission led him to place a daisy-like flower and a fox’s mask within medal-sized circles, on the back of the broad cloak."

The entrance to the building is flanked by glass panels that have been etched by John Hutton to create a series of life-sized figures.  Hutton has created similar glass panels for the Civic Centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and famously the west wall of Coventry Cathedral. 

Inside there is also carved timber work by Nicolete Gray and John Skelton and furniture by Gordon Russell.

The latest addition to the Centre is a, "60-seat, fully licensed café (that) overlooks the garden where the Trust’s own theatre company performs extracts from Shakespeare’s works throughout the day.  Open to the public as well as visitors, it offers full table service and a menu of locally sourced, freshly made hot and cold light meals and snacks."