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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 April 2006, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Work begins at Shakespeare church
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Thousands of tourists visit Holy Trinity Church each year
Shakespeare's church in Warwickshire is being shrouded in scaffolding as work begins on a major restoration project.

The tower at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon is being repaired including the spire, erected in 1769.

Tourist donations raised 5,000 last year but verger Nigel Penn said they were "nowhere near" the 2.5m needed to fund a series of urgent repairs.

William Shakespeare was baptised at Holy Trinity on 26 April 1564 and buried there on 25 April 1616.

Shakespeare's bust
Tourists flock to see Shakespeare's bust in the church

His grave slab in the chancel and a memorial to him are visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Mr Penn said the bells in the tower would remain silent for six months as work on the tower continues. They were last rung on Shakespeare's birthday one week ago.

"The scaffolding is now being put up and the work is going to progress from there," said Mr Penn.

He said the work would not stop people visiting the church nor affect services.

The fundraising group, the Friends of Shakespeare's Church, had done an enormous amount of work Mr Penn said, and the Stratford Town Trust had also donated money.

"We have a big advertising board inside the church and a donation box that does extremely well.

"We had 5,000 in that box last year alone."

Urgent repairs are also needed to the north nave windows, the north chancel roof and to the pointing of the external stonework.

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