The Escape Arts & Heritage Centre has reopened our community projects as of Autumn 2021, however, we remain closed to the public until 2022 as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Watch this space for further updates in 2022!
The home of Escape is the Grade ll listed Old Slaughterhouse Heritage & Arts Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The site itself is steeped in history, being, amongst other things, a butcher’s shop, a Tudor pub, and a rope-walk. Now it is a vibrant community venue, offering a range of regular arts and heritage workshops and adult evening classes. Find out more about visiting us.
The Old Slaughterhouse was originally the slaughterhouse at the back of Hensons Butchers, a family run business that existed in the town for almost 100 years. The Old Slaughterhouse opened to the public in 2014 and now receives thousands of visitors a year, making it a popular tourist destination. Our full almost 500 year history is available to view on an interactive timeline, featuring virtual reality, animation and a gallery to bring our fascinating past to life for the modern audience.
In 2014 Escape won a Stratford Town Trust community challenge to renovate the Grade ll listed, derelict, slaughterhouse into a community arts and heritage centre, led by architect Roger Abbott. Local consultation and public response was overwhelming. So many people came forward with memories of the site and through our youth media project these stories were recorded. Please see BBC News Feature. The building was in a terrible state of disrepair, the original condition was photographed by Phil Williams and now forms part of our archive. In 1015 we received a Historic England Heritage Angel Award Recommendation.
Escape are proud to have rescued this forgotten building and to create a vibrant community space that focuses on local stories and local people. It plays an important part in ensuring these stories are heard, shared and archived, leaving a lasting legacy to the town and it’s people. Escape are now developing the yard, through The Lost Garden of Avon project, which seeks to celebrate the once formal gardens and water features once situated in the space.
Unique Community Space
The Old Slaughterhouse is a community building. It is where we run our programme of community projects, host exhibitions about local people for local people. It’s also where we hold some fabulous re-enactment events, over the past few years the space has been transformed into a Tudor pub, a 1960s railway station, and even hosted scooter rally and a WWII wedding, complete with WWll Bake Off and Wonky Veg Comptetition.
In 2019 Escape developed a Crowdfunding project to build an undercover activity area on site called the ‘Cowshed’. The space received funding from Awards for All Big Lottery, Esmee Fairbairn, Warwickshire County County and lots of donations from the general public and local businesses. This space will provide a great secure area for a whole range of creative, growing cooking and performance activities moving forward and a great venue for events and celebrations.
The centre can also be hired by members of the community for personal use.
What our visitors say...
We had a lovely time visiting, enjoying the exhibits and tea & cake! Yummy! We think Emma and the team are first class… Keep shining!
The Timlins, Leamington Spa
Love this gorgeous find! A warm welcome and a step back in time, sprinkled with art!
The Johnsons, Saffron Walden
I’m an American tourist and this is the BEST place I have visited in England! They were so generous and welcoming! 100 out of 10 would recommend!
Anita Labelle, Boston