In July 2015, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced an award of £1.4 million to fund major conservation and interpretative work on 'Shakespeare's School', the former Guildhall of the Holy Cross, located in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. Today, the Guildhall is occupied by the King Edward VI Grammar School (KES, the descendant of a grammar school founded by the Holy Cross guild in the 15th century. Willingly to School with Shakespeare is the outcome of over ten years of collaborative research activity between KES, led by Professor Ronnie Mulryne, heritage consultants Imagemakers, wall-painting conservators Perry Lithgow and a team from the University of York led by Dr Kate Giles. The aim of the HLF project was to use the building to 'enable the wider public and tourists from around the world to sit where Shakespeare sat and gain an insight into the world which helped inspire him to become the world's greatest playwright' by understanding the Guildhall as a 'vital link in Stratford-upon-Avon's Shakespearian and mediaeval heritage' (pers. comm. Reyahn King 2015, Head of HLF West Midlands).
The project therefore provided both a challenge and an opportunity for digitally-creative solutions to be used to orientate visitors to Shakespeare's School in time and space, enabling them to understand both the material and cultural inheritance of Europe's greatest playwright. As a result, it has also provided a model for how digital creativity can facilitate greater dialogue between academics, conservators, heritage professionals and other stakeholders in the documentation, conservation and presentation of this iconic heritage site.
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