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My partner and I recently spent a week's holiday in Stratford-upon-Avon. During the week, we managed to visit all five of the main Shakespearean attractions and on the Thursday, it was our turn to go to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. I remember going to this with my parents as a child in the 1980s, but didn't really recognise anything when I went back this time.
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.
Anne Hathaway's cottage was our second stop in Stratford. We arrived on a beautiful sunny day and, knowing the temperamental beast that is the British weather, decided it was best not to wait for the following morning since this was the furthest out of town we were planning to walk. The cottage is about a mile from the far side of Stratford. Obviously far depends on where you are. If you're staying over there, then it would be about a mile from, erm, your side of Stratford, but we were staying across town, probably another mile away from the start of the path. You get there either by wandering along some residential streets or by following a footpath through some fields. I grew up in a holiday destination. I empathise with those who want to huff, 'I'm not a tourist...I live here' at the day trippers who traipse past their houses seemingly on the way to somewhere more exciting, but not so distracted they don't want to have a good nosy in your windows as they pass. We took the footpath.
You have two choices when it comes to tickets: buy the 5-house ticket (valid for a year) or purchase them house by house. The multi-buy is currently £19, but we had a 2-for-1 voucher, making it under a tenner each, or under £2 per house, a proper bargain. The cottage entrance on its own is £7.50. They don't say you have to, but they really want you to buy the all-in ticket.
The cottage is housed in extensive grounds and you get a free pass to these with your entry fee. Our first stop was the cottage itself, though it's something of a misnomer to call it that since it's a massive place and was Shakespeare's wife's family home for many generations. We entered to catch the tail end of a guide's explanation of the history and design which was interesting as all our Stratford house guide experiences were. They're clearly geared up for tourists, and they do it well. From here we ducked our heads (or, at least, the proper sized adults in our group did) and headed on through the narrow hallway and up the creaky stairs, to nosy in the kitchen and bedrooms and parlour. The beds aren't as colourful as in Shakespeare's birthplace, but there was a special courting chair which made up for it somewhat. It must have worked, too, since she was already knocked up by the time they got hitched.
Leaving the cottage we had to pass through a vaguely interesting but thankfully brief exhibition, before we were back in the beautiful gardens. They claim to have won prizes for these, and looking at them you couldn't doubt it. I do wonder if they drug the beasties, though, because although we were attacked my midges and critters as we approached along the footpath, there were barely any insects buzzing around once inside the garden, with the exception of a rather flamboyant dragonfly.
The gardens are vast and beautifully maintained, but paths are kept to a minimum so the map you get as you enter is really valuable. We wandered on to the Willow Cabin, a domed cabin made of, erm, willow where you can listen to a number of Shakespeare's sonnets, read by famous actors. These are shown by number, not name, but I think the first one on the recording list (#18) is one most people would know.
The Woodland Walk behind the property is a reasonably new development, and if you're so inclined (or have little ones with low boredom thresholds) you can complete the wildlife quiz as you wander along. We saw lots of birds, but no foxes. We'd have needed my special fox-spotting sister with us for that.
Passing through the orchard we came to the sculpture trail and tree garden, which boasts 40 trees mentioned in Shakespeare's work (handily labelled, with their literary reference, so you know what's what). The sculptures are a random mix - a cut out British Isles lets you know you've arrived at the trail, but is quickly followed by everything from a naked Brutus doing a poo, to Titania doing Bottom (or at least that's what they looked like). In the centre of the trail is a maze. It looks quite pathetic from the outside, but don't let that fool you: I was a-maze-d by how long it took us to get out once we'd got in. No one else ventured in the entire time we were there. Sensible people. Every time we went round a bend, my mind contemplated just how ace a place for a murder this would be. You could do away with someone and it would be weeks before anyone found them. Incidentally, this would be a simple way to get rid of your children during your stay - you could just come back a few days later on your way to the M40 to collect them. If you brought a bell or a whistle, you'd be able to call them back quite easily.
We spent almost 2 hours in the grounds of the cottage. It is absolutely beautiful, with lots to explore and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the sunshine. There are picnic tables if you wanted to have lunch there, and the gift shop sells ice creams and sweets. There's also a tea room just across the path, and the place has an astonishing number of loos scattered throughout the grounds. My mother is quickly adding the toilets of Stratford Upon Avon to her Mastermind specialist subject (along with the toilets of Quito...and of Manchester...and of just about anywhere else she's spent any length of time).
We walked back along the footpath. It seemed quicker on the return, even with a slight detour to the garden centre tearoom which was eerily quiet and, along with the shop housing it, entirely devoid of staff. We left swiftly, having had quite enough will-there-or-won't-there-be-a-body-round-the-corner suspense for one day though wondering why Miss Marple never came to Shakespeare land.
Open daily from 9am to 5pm
Anne Hathaway's Cottage is based in the village of Shottery just a few miles outside Stratford-Upon-Avon. You will need to have access to a car to get here, unless you are on an organised tour. There is car parking nearby, which you pay for, but there is a short walk to actually get to the admissions/ticket office. Admission for an adult is £7, but it is included on the Five House ticket (£17) and Four House ticket, but not the Town Houses ticket.
Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare's wife, and this is where she was born and grew up. Her late father had been a successful farmer who had left her a reasonable sized dowry on occasion of her marriage. It is believed that Shakespeare came here on business with his father, a wool merchant and glove maker, who presumably had business dealings with the late Richard Hathaway. They married the year after he died. Apparently the 26 year old Anne was pregnant, and her neighbours took out a kind of bond to ensure that the 18 year old William turned up for the wedding!
This property was probably my favourite of all the five Shakespeare Trust properties I visited over the course of the weekend. It really is the quintessential English country cottage (albeit a large one) with its thatched roof and beautiful gardens. The original part of the house is estimated to have been built around the 1460s and was expanded by later generations. The house actually stayed within the Hathaway family, although they sold it in 1840, they remained as tenants until the Birthplace Trust purchased it in 1892. The first custodian was Mary Baker, the great-great niece of the last male Hathaway. Much of the furniture in the house was owned by the family and the bed was believed to have dated from Anne's time. There is also a chair, donated separately, which historians believed also came from the house during this time.
Within the house the period costumed guide will tell you anecdotes about the pregnancy scandal, what life was like for the Hathaways and how they would have lived. I found her very informative, entertaining and helpful. She was more than happy to answer any of our questions (which she's probably already been asked fifteen times that day) and was clearly passionate and well-informed on her subject. The house is accessed by steps and inside has uneven stone floors and a steep staircase, thus access for wheelchair users is rather difficult.
As previously mentioned the gardens are lovely, and there are plenty of seats if you want to sit and soak up the Englishness of the whole thing. The paths do have some slopes though. It is interesting to see vegetables grown in the garden instead of just herbs and flowers. There is also an orchard and sculpture trail if you have the time and inclination to explore these. The gift shop also sells plants and cuttings. There are toilets (including wheelchair accessible) but there is no café on site, however there is an independent tea shop across the road open seasonally.
Although logistics usually mean that people visit the houses in town only, this is well worth the journey. Like the other properties managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, you cannot take photos inside the property (they may miss out on guidebook sales!) but you will get some beautiful shots of the garden in season (and it still looked lovely, even in October).
The former home of Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare. t is here that it is said 18 year old Shakespeare courted his bride to be who was somewhat older than him at 26 years.
We visited this property whilst on holiday in Stratford. We bought the 5 properties Shakespeare ticket which when purchased online cost about £15 (you receive an online discount). Once purchased the ticket lasts for 1 year so you can go back as many times as you like.
This property is outside of Stratford, about 3 miles, in a village called Shottery.
There is parking just up the road which you have to pay for. It was £1 for 3 hours which in my opinion is perfectly adequate time to see everything.
The cottage itself is quaint but a very quick walk through is all that is needed. There is quite a lot to look at and it has been perfectly maintained. The guides are very friendly and are more than willing to divulge much of their knowlege.
There are some beautiful gardens around the cottage, an orchard, a woodland walk and a sculpture trail. We went on a lovely autumnal day and really enjoyed walking around the grounds, it was very romantic and quiet. We did go at a quiet time of year and can imagine it can get pretty busy at peak times.
It is well worth a visit, secluded and romantic an important part of our heritage.
~~Ann Hathaway's Cottage~~
We spent a wonderful couple of days in Stratford looking at the lovely old properties in Shakespeare's town of Stratford; which just happens to be the second most visited town in England, the first being London; it actually has in excess of five million visitors a year and I am now one of them. During our two days we visited all five of Shakespeare's houses and in this review I want to tell you about the house that belonged to Ann Hathaway and her family; Ann was (for those that may not know) the wife of William Shakespeare, they married in 1582.
The cottage is just a few minutes outside Stratford in a small village called Shottery; it was a working farm right up to the 19th century and has been in the Hathaway family for over 300 years. It is currently owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. It took the name of Ann Hathaway's Cottage at around 1820 after receiving a few visitors to see where Shakespeare's wife had lived and William had done his courting. It has had some renowned visitors through its life like Charles Dickens and the famous poet Alfred Tennyson.
The cottage is a typical old thatched cottage, which has been excellently preserved over the years. The cottage has been altered over the years, much of the ground floor to the right of the garden dates back to the 15th century; Ann's brother Bartholomew added a section in the 17th century, also during the latter part of this century the central chimney was also rebuilt. A lot of the Hathaways furniture is still in the house on display so you do get to see this, but the range of furniture dates right across from the 16th - 19th century.
It was the first day of our break and we were on the tour bus. We decided to make Ann Hathaway's cottage the first of the five houses to visit. I was very excited as we approached the cottage, it looked really quaint and pretty with its thatched roof and black and white timber and stone walls, even its uneven shape gave it a lot of character. The front garden had a cottage feel and was very colourful on this lovely sunny day (for a change).
We stepped off the bus and walked up to the entrance which is the gift shop to show them our ticket and purchase our guide book for £3.95 (which shows all five properties belonging to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust). Ignoring all the tempting things to buy in the path they send you on; this took you through the lovely gardens and you came to what looked like a garden shed painted and covered with net, along with a net entrance to it look like you are entering a fairy grotto. A little sign tells us that this is 'The Cradle of the Fairy Queen'; as you walk inside everything is painted black and there little fairy lights on the ceiling and music playing. In the corner is the fairy queen lying at rest under a shroud of black netting. There is a little seat on the side wall and a notice asking you to sit and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere for a short while.
We stayed for a couple of minutes and then moved off through the garden and to the cottage. At the cottage you were greeted by a member of staff dressed in period costume, (at the time of our visit they were celebrating William Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'). We were led with a crowd of visitors in to the hall and we were informed (very disappointedly) that we were not allowed to take any photos. Our guide stays with us here and tells us about the house, the furniture in this room and what to expect as we walk around. She told us that due to the uneven floors etc in the house that it was for our own safety that we could not take photos.
Anyway back on track the fireplace and the elm-wood bench (called a settle) were pointed out to us. She showed us how it was uneven as over the past people had cut out chunks of wood to sell as souvenirs to say that it was the seat where William and Ann sat during their courting. There was a lovely three legged dresser, this only had three legs because the back of it was supported by a shelf built into the wall design, the shelves we added to the wall at the back as well, so in effect it looked like half of a welsh dresser. The cottage is very well preserved inside with its lime washed walls.
The next rooms were the buttery and cold room where you got to see some period items that would have been used over the centuries like a butter churner and cheese-making equipment amongst a few of the items. From here you go up the stairs, to the next floor. The staircase is very narrow and uneven, when you enter the upper floor you will notice how the oak floor boards are very uneven and the wooden beams appear misshapen; again you get low ceilings and doorways, so occasionally you may need to duck. The furniture up there is beautiful, the wood carved bed and crib especially; I am only sorry that I did not get the chance to appreciate it a little more; but the space is limited and being part of a large group of visitors you were pushed along quite quickly.
In one of the rooms you find the 'Shakespeare Chair' which is made of oak and walnut and dates from the early 17th century; it was passed down through the family and at the end of the Shakespeare line, with the death of his grand-daughter it went back to the Hathaway family; who eventually got talked into parting with it and they had it sold; 200 years later the trust purchased the chair and bought it back home.
We got across to the other side of the house very quickly it seemed and I felt a little cheated as I didn't get to enjoy the rooms as much as I would have liked. At the far end was another staircase which took you back downstairs to the kitchen area and parlour onto the rear of the cottage, where you can take a look around the garden and orchard. We walked a little through the vegetable garden and the orchard, but then went back to catch the bus to go to the next house which we wanted to visit today.
There is a sculpture trail and tree garden for you to look at, which contains about 40 trees which Shakespeare mentioned in his work and various sculptures which have been created by young artists who have been inspired by the written word.
They advertise that there are some really pretty woodlands walks and I even remember our tour guide on the bus saying you could imagine William and Ann walking hand in hand through these woods.
There are problems in some areas for people who are wheelchair users, especially inside the house, but they do have a virtual tour that you can look at if you ask at reception.
There is a free coach and car park provided for your use.
There are brown signs directing you to the cottage off the A422 Alcester Road, where you would turn left to get to it, or you could go right off Evesham Place and the B439 Evesham Road.
Address for you Sat Nav is
Ann Hathaway's Cottage
Stratford upon Avon
~~Opening times for 2009~~
November to March - it is open 1000hrs to 1600hrs daily.
April to May and Sept to October it is open between 0930hrs and 1700hrs - with Sunday being 1000hrs to 1700hrs
June to August - Monday to Saturday is 0900hrs to 1700hrs and Sunday is 0930hrs to 1700hrs
Closed for a week in December between 23rd and 26th inclusive.
~~Prices for 2009~~
Adult - £6.50
Children (ages 5-16yrs) - £3.50
Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) - £16.00
A multi ticket for all five houses is
Adult - £17.00
Children - £10.00
Family - £44.50
Concession - £15.50
This is really worthwhile but you may wish to consider the bus tour as the ticket will only cost you £5.50 more on the adult price and you will get driven to all of the houses, so no hassle trying to park etc.
You can buy the guide book at any of the houses in one of four languages, English, French, German or Japanese all are prices at £3.95, you can even buy these on line prior to your visit and you can get your tickets as well.
The Shakespeare multi ticket also gives you free entry into the Shakespeare Found exhibition where you will get to see a true image of William Shakespeare which has been discovered and has been proven authentic.
Everything was done by staff and the bus tour to promote this lovely home, and it is truly lovely; I just wish I had the time to enjoy it rather than feel like I was herded along and around the cottage with the large amount of visitors at one time.
I once again have to complain that photos were not allowed, most digital cameras these days take fairly good photos in museum mode; or just with the flash turned off, and this does not harm the rooms or the furniture. Also people will still buy the guide books and would probably purchase a photo ticket to allow them to take photographs; this would also bring money into the trust to help with the upkeep of the houses. Hopefully someone will read this and take note. It is definitely worth a visit, but I would time it for when it is less crowded and you can enjoy the house at a more sedate pace giving you the chance to absorb its beauty and really see what is there.
Many thanks for reading