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Anne Hathaway's Cottage

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Anne Hathaway's Cottage

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Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Amidst all the speculation about the identity of William Shakespeare's "dark lady", his wife Anne Hathaway is often overlooked. But the half-timbered, thatched Elizabethan building that was Anne's home prior to marrying the young Bard in 1582 has become a much-visited and reproduced site, attracting thousands of visitors every year and appearing on almost as many tea towels and chocolate boxes.

The term 'cottage' is slightly misleading – the Hathaway family home is actually a substantial 12-room farmhouse, with over 90 acres of land, in the village of Shottery, a mile from the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon.

The house remained in the Hathaway family until 1892 when it was bought and subsequently restored by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. It contains, among other things, the bed in which Anne was born and the wooden settle upon which, it is said, the young Shakespeare wooed his bride-to-be. There is also the infamous 'second best bedde' that Shakespeare bequeathed to Anne in his will.

A huge fire swept through the building in 1969, but the Birthplace Trust restored it to its former glory and it remains a must-see on any Shakespeare pilgrimage.

Photo with kind permission from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust


Your comments

It is just about everyones idea of what an English Cottage looks like. It is recognised internationally.

Robert Charlett

I have an original drawing of Anne's cottage which was drawn around 1920-1925. I was wondering if this has any value, for the purpose of insurance.

I have a particular artistic and personal connection to Anne Hathaway's Cottage as I have performed my original one-woman show "Mrs Shakespeare, Will's first & last love" for many years. I've been to the Cottage about four times, researching, talking with the guides, walking around what would been called "Hewlands Farms" in Anne's lifetime. Even more than the other Shakespeare properties in Stratford, the Cottage is for me a place for imagination--imagining the life of a farmer's daughter who meets a witty young man only to stay behind while he becomes a succesful writer and theatre owner in London. My visits always raise more questions and prompt more research. How did people manage to live in the times of such fires and plague? What was Anne made of that she could sustain a working life of homemaking and caring for three children? I imagine and create a story of her life for audiences, drawing from the writing of her husband to inform their story of wooing and wedding. I most often perform in historic places, places that have their own stories, but it is often Anne's Cottage that's in my mind on stage, part of a performance a continent away. "The house in Shottery had but one hearth and no chimney," she says, and wonders how her husband could buy New Place, one of the town's great houses. The Cottage is charming, but it was foremost a home full of the orphaned siblings Anne helped to raise, a home full of work and dreams.
Yvonne Hudson

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I nominate the English weather.