Historic Guild Chapel wedding couple celebrate 50 years

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The first couple to get married at Stratford’s Guild Chapel relived their wedding day memories last week as they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at the historic building.

Roger and Caroline Fox made history on 5th April 1969 as they were married in the Chapel, the first such ceremony to take place in 700 years.

The son of the late Levi Fox, the former director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Roger has always had a strong connection with the chapel, witnessing his father’s efforts to preserve the building as the founder of the Friends of the Guild Chapel.

He also has memories of attending services whilst studying at King Edward VI School.

The couple, both from Stratford, met through a love of folk dancing and worked for a time at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Today they live in Kingston-upon-Thames, but occasionally visit Stratford to support events, such as those held at KES.

Roger, 74, said: “This building has always been part of my life, I first came here at the age of one, and I and Caroline feel very honoured to have been the first to get married here. At the time we got a lot of publicity, I know most people have forgotten about it all now, but we certainly haven’t. When I come back here it’s amazing to see the work that has been done.”

Caroline, 73, added: “At the time this chapel was outside of the diocese so I had to apply for a special Archbishop Licence, I was working for a company which had the same solicitors as the Archbishop, so we even managed to get it for free. I know there were one or two weddings held here after ours.

“It was an amazing hot day, we were very lucky.”

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is currently sorting through a large collection of Levi Fox’s papers, diaries and plans, which effectively tell the behind-the-scenes story of SBT during his tenure from 1945 to 1989.

The charity intends to display parts of the collection next year.

Roger said: “When I’m back in Stratford I feel very proud knowing that my father put in so much hard work to preserve Stratford for the people of Stratford, he bought up lots of Henley Street to protect it from being developed.”