The Guild House

The Guild House, which originally extended as far as the pharmacy, was the headquarters of the Guild of St. Anne, a charitable and religious guild established by Walter Cook in 1413.  At its height it had over 3,000 members, including many senior churchmen and most of the local gentry: the Lucy's of Charlecote, the Ferrers of Baddesley Clinton, the Fetherstons of Packwood, the Throckmortons of Coughton and some of the Shakespeares.  In 1416 Walter Cook founded the College of Knowle, a religious establishment providing a communal life for the resident priests.  Both Guild and College were dissolved at the Reformation in 1547 and their property confiscated;  but the second Guild register (1451-1535) miraculously survived and is now in Birmingham Reference Library.  It is a world-renowned source for the early history of the Shakespeare family.

In 1550 the Guild House was sold to two London merchants, eventually being divided into houses.  About 1873 it became a shop and later housed the post office for a time.  It was restored and returned to the Church in 1912 by Mr Jackson of Springfield House and is now used for Church meetings and other events.  In the 1939-1945 war it sheltered refugees from Coventry and Birmingham.

The stained glass windows depict the seals of the Guild and College and show the three saints to whom the church is  dedicated - St. John the Baptist, St. Laurence (reputedly roasted to death on a gridiron) and St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary.

St. Anne's Cottage (No. 1713), originally part of the Guild premises, was restored at the same time as the Guild House.  Monastery House (No. 1711) was also part of the Guild buildings.

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Above left: the Guild House in 1891, when it was in use as the post office.  Note the three distinctive gables on the frontage.

Above right: The Guild House, early 1900s, shortly after its restoration in 1912.  The picture shows the full extent of the orginal Guild premises, including St Anne’s Cottage and Monastery House.  The Guild House has a new frontage.

Left: the Guild House interior, 1946.