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Let Slip the Dogs of War

Our World War One, Stratford and Shakespeare exhibition tells the stories of Stratford people during the war years and explores the use of Shakespeare’s words during that time.

Soldiers on Bridge Street
Soldiers line Bridge Street in Stratford-upon-Avon

With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s special First World War funding stream, we are using items from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's Local History and Shakespeare Collections to commemorate and develop understanding of the role of Stratford-upon-Avon and its residents during the war.

The Trust holds a wealth of information about Stratford-upon-Avon's war time heritage. Working with a dedicated team of volunteers, we are studying the effect of the war on the town and examining the individual experiences of those who served using photographs, diaries, copies of Shakespeare's works owned by soldiers, newspapers, scrapbooks, business records, oral history recordings of wartime memories, theatre programmes and a wealth of other materials. We are also researching Shakespeare’s words on war, loss and patriotism.

Our findings are being shared through an exhibition, 'Cry ‘havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war: The First World War, Shakespeare and Stratford'. 

The exhibition takes place at Hall's Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon, opening on 12th July 2014.  It tells the stories of local people during the war years and explores the use of Shakespeare’s words during that time, keeping up morale, encouraging patriotism and providing comfort. The exhibition is supported by family activities, a smaller display in the Trust’s Library and Archive Reading Room and by events that have been taking place.

With the help of our volunteers we are also running a First World War blogging project via Finding Shakespeare where more stories and insights are being posted, and sharing a variety of content on

Finally, over 200 items from our Local History Collection are being digitised to protect them for future generations and to help make them more broadly accessible to audiences around the world.