The Truth about Shakespeare's Grave
I've received an e-mail enquiring about the relevance of Shakespeare's being buried in Holy Trinity church in Stratford. I'm quoting thre relevant part of the e-mail here. My answer follows below:
I have a question for Professor Pearce about Shakespeare. I watched his series on EWTN. I went to Convent school in England in the 1950's and we studied several of Shakespeare's plays (2 a year).
I never questioned that he was anything but Catholic because his writings seemed so familiar. Recently my daughter sent me a leaflet from Holy Trinity in Stratford. It says that Shakespeare was buried there because he was a 'lay rector' there. If that is true it sounds as if he must have been Protestant during that time, or at least pretended to be.
I would appreciate reading Professor Pearce's comments on that, if he would be so kind.
My reply: The claim by Holy Trinity at Stratford that Shakespeare was a "lay rector" at the time of his death appears to be completely unsubstantiated by any documentary record. Such an unsubstatiated claim flies in the face of all the known facts of the Bard's life.
As for his being buried in his local Anglican church, it was standard procedure for people to be buried in the grounds of their local church and several known Catholic recusants, friends of Shakespeare and his family, are buried there. The reason that Shakespeare is buried inside the church, in the chancel to be precise, is that he was one of the wealthiest men in the town and paid a large fee for the privilege of being buried in the church alongside other family members, all of whom were Catholics.
Let's not forget that the church had been a Catholic church for centuries prior to its being stolen from the Church by Henry VIII at the so-called Reformation. Shakespeare's burial in the church is merely an indication that he wanted to be buried with members of his Catholic family and that he was wealthy enough to pay for the privilege.