William Morris

Stratford-on-Avon Church

My attention has been called to a letter from the vicar of Stratford-on-Avon appearing in your issue of July 28, and appealing for funds generally towards the completion of the restoration. In this letter occurs the following sentence:- `Under the stalls sufficient of the ancient reredos has been found to make Mr. Garner think he can give us a drawing of what it was when the church was built. We shall hope, then, that somebody will provide the funds to erect a copy of it in the old place.'

I am glad that the vicar talks about a `copy' of the reredos, and not a `restoration' of it; but may I ask why a copy of it should be `erected in the old place'? Will not every fresh piece of modern work make `the old place' (the church, I mean) look less old and more like a 19th-century medieval furniture-dealer's warehouse? There has been a great deal too much modernization of this fine church of Stratford-on-Avon already, and it is more than time that it should come to an end. Once for all I protest against the trick which clergymen and restoration committees have of using an illustrious name as a bait wherewith to catch subscriptions. Shakespeare's memory is best honoured by reading his works intelligently; and it is no honour to him to spend money in loading the handsome medieval church which contains his monument withtrash which can claim none of the respect due to either an ancient or a modern work of art.

Letter to the Times, 15 August 1890.