Newest Review: ... £12, Concessions £17.50 REVIEW This is Anne Hathaway's family home. She became William Shakespeare's wife when she was 26, he was ... more
"The Most Romantic Shakespeare House"
Anne Hathaway's Cottage (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Member Name: karenuk
Anne Hathaway's Cottage (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Advantages: Pretty house and gardens, interesting place to visit
Disadvantages: Not ideal for young children
Anne Hathaway's Cottage is situated in a place called Shottery (CV37 9HH), half a mile from the centre of Stratford and well signposted. It has its own parking facilities and is open daily except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, from 9am to 5pm between April and October, then from 10am to 4pm between November and March. It costs £7.50 for adults, £4.50 for children and £6.50 for concessions, with under fives being allowed in free.
They have a few organised activities over the year, including the Sweet Pea Festival from late June to August and during the summer holidays, they have Nature Detectives activities in the Woodland Walk.
We paid £19.50 each for an adult five house pass to all the Shakespeare's Houses and Gardens (Shakespeare's Birthplace, Nash's House and New Place, Hall's Croft, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's Farm) Tickets are valid for twelve months. Children £12, Concessions £17.50
This is Anne Hathaway's family home. She became William Shakespeare's wife when she was 26, he was 18 and she was three months' pregnant with their daughter Susanna.
As well as the cottage itself, there is a cottage garden, a sculpture trail and tree garden, a traditional orchard, a woodland walk (which takes around twenty minutes), a picnic area, a willow cabin, a maze and a gift shop. The car park is a short walk away and across the road, there is the tea garden, which is open from April 1st until the end of October.
As I am pregnant and didn't fancy doing much walking, we went round the cottage, had a quick walk through some of the gardens, visited the gift shop (and the toilets!) then went to the tea shop for refreshments.
The cottage is really pretty so don't forget to take your camera! As you get inside, there are tour guides in certain rooms who will explain bits of the history to you and answer your questions. We had a really good one here, an enthusiastic young woman who had a great way of bringing the history to life. She explained that it was very rare for someone of William Shakespeare's age to get married then and being only eighteen, he needed special permission. By then, Anne was twenty-six, which was seen as being quite old to be single. At twenty-four, single women usually began sleeping in a higher part of the house, which is where the phrase "being left on the shelf" comes from.
There are several interesting historical features in the house including a love seat where William and Anne were supposed to have sat and Shakespeare's 'Courting Chair' as well as the Hathaway Bed from the late 16th century. Details of these can be found in the souvenir brochure 'Shakespeare - Work, Life and Times' which can be bought from any of the five houses. (It is well worth buying as it covers all of the attractions. It is also available in a variety of languages.)
There seems to be more genuine items here than in some of the other houses. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought the house in 1892 and at the time, Mary Baker was living there, who was a descendant of the Hathaway family and the Trust also bought the furniture that was still there.
The house is bigger than I was expecting, though there are always some low ceilings so watch out if you are tall. The rooms you can see inside include a parlour with various utensils, bedrooms, living room and kitchen. On the first floor, there is a section where you can see the structure of the original house from the 1460s. It is a 'cruck' frame which is curved oak timbers supporting the walls which are made of wattle and daub. Throughout the house, there are signs explaining what items are and the history behind them, so it is worth having a look at these.
It doesn't take long to go round the house, but you can extend your visit by walking round the gardens as you wish. The gift shop has a good range of souvenirs from tasteful to tacky and for a variety of prices, so it is ideal for little items to take back for someone if they are a fan of Shakespeare. As well as the usual books and postcards, there are a few more unusual items such as small Shakespeare dolls.
Afterwards, we went across the road to the Tea Garden, where we had hot drinks and cold snacks. It's nothing glamorous, but the prices are good enough and the refreshments were good quality and ranged from a quick snack to a meal. There is seating indoors and outdoors but as the weather was fine, we sat outdoors and were entertained by a duck with twelve ducklings wandering around, quacking a lot and looking incredibly cute.
Overall, Anne Hathaway's Cottage is worth visiting and especially if you have a Five House Pass, it is worth the money. I personally don't think a visit there will take more than an hour, but it is nice to see and a relaxing visit to somewhere of historical importance and cultural significance.
Summary: An interesting place to visit.
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