Time of year
Big_Jeff_Leo wrote a review Oct 2020
St Helens, United Kingdom14,616 contributions858 helpful votes
Please note - this historic place is CLOSED due to the current Covid situation. However you can still admire this wonderful cottage from the outside (see images). Please however do not enter the gardens as they are off limits and monitored with CCTV.
Date of experience: October 2020
1 Helpful vote
Peter S wrote a review Jun 2020
Rome, Italy2,893 contributions236 helpful votes
Story of a farmhouse wherein William Shakespeare courted Anne Hathaway – iconic historical characters.
Review covers a visit to Anne Hathaway’s family home at Shottery a couple of km outside the commercial centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. William Shakespeare – English poet, actor and playwright and generally considered the best-known writer in the English Language. And here we were briefly exploring the place where the Hathaway Family lived and where, it is reputed that William courted, impregnated and married Anne Hathaway – in that order; the first of three children – Susanna – was born to the couple six months later. William was just 18 at the time and his wife 26. Anne Hathaway’s cottage, in reality the farmhouse where she lived as child that has, since1892 (when it was acquired by the Shakespeare Birth Trust) evolved into today’s tourist icon - part of the Shakespeare Heritage Industry based upon Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare and his work are part of the background of English/Anglo school kids everywhere - those of us who read/learned/explored/acted their Henry V or Much Ado About Nothing or Midsummer Night’s Dream for their school-leaving certificates and/or amateur dramatics and/or because we liked the stories, enjoyed the plays, treasured the history or simply became captured by the language. Following through with an interest in the man and his times is an easy option and more particularly when the weather is fine for exploring glimpses of Tudor England in the 21st century. We had left London early that morning on a elegant train hauled by a period steam locomotive for a day of adventure in the Midlands. At Warwick we switched to coaches with which to follow in ‘William’s footprints’ – although not literally; like most rural people of 400 years ago he would have had to walk everywhere. We had comfortable wheels. It was our first time in the area and things had clearly changed from those original days. Anne Hathaway’s place is now a twelve-roomed farmhouse – so only a ‘cottage’ in the sense that it started small in the 15th century – the lowest/stepped down part of the existing structure. In fact, it was not originally a cottage at all, but an enclosed barn-like hall with an open hearth at centre (and, presumably, a hole in the roof). The original building was converted into a comfortable farmhouse in Shakespeare’s time with the addition of a second floor and a couple of chimney flues – wooden frame, lathe, plaster, fill/cladding and thatched roof. Voilà, here’s your image of a typical English country cottage – robust/efficient/low-cost design that was still being used countrywide through to the early 19th century. By the mid-1700s the structure had doubled in size with the addition of the larger/up slope part of the structure. And, later still, a short brick/wooden framed extension was added to the lower end of the original building. A couple of useful/descriptive wall boards on site provide an easy to follow timeline in pictures over the years. Stand at the highest point in the garden – where there’s an artistic woven seat overlooking the farmhouse, and you can sit and study the flow of the thatched roof over the upper windows; the snug and tidy condition of the entire building. Three chimneys, two of which are internal and centred on the roof line – imagine just how warm the building would have been in winter. Where would the livestock, stored feed and equipment, hand-tools, etc. have been kept? Where did the family store their bulk farm food? There may originally have been 36 ha of farmland, but the cottage today has 4 ha that include orchards, sculpture garden and an arboretum that contains all the trees mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays (so the guide says). We wandered the garden next to the cottage which had a veritable team of gardeners tending the decorative beds, plants and shrubs. This is where you wait your turn for the guided tour of the property – so lots of time in which to enjoy the ambience of the house within its immediate garden. Once inside you follow the guide and her stories through the narrow passageways, around the sharp corners and up (and down) the narrow staircases taking in the different rooms, making sure to clear those low and potentially hazardous roof beams and door lintels where required; people were small in stature in those days. There were beds in the upstairs rooms some with canopies and others without (and, again, small by comparison with today), books open next to the beds described the Hathaway Family’s debt and the early history of the ‘Shakespeare Courting Chair’. There is a robust well-serviced kitchen too on the ground floor with late 19th century images. What you see is what you get – this sanitized glimpse of a family home from the 15th century firmly, if briefly, linked to the life and times of William Shakespeare. And William Shakespeare? Following their marriage the couple went to live in Stratford town, but London eventually dominated his working life. Annual visits kept him in contact with his wife/children who remained in Stratford. He returned after retiring from the stage to spend the final years of his life where he had started … and died in 1616 aged 51. And Anne Hathaway’s cottage? The last of the Hathaway Family – tenants at the time - left the place just over 100 years ago in 1911. Many interesting stories then … of this the world’s most famous English writer … but, we had a train with an iconic English locomotive to catch for our return to London that evening. Peter Steele 27 May 2020…
Date of experience: July 2019
sealeg wrote a review May 2020
Perth, Australia103 contributions137 helpful votes
Been to Stratford Upon Avon several times over 20 years or so but never managed to visit this property due to massive crowds, tour buses and chaotic atmosphere. Finally in September 2019 we managed to get up early and found it to be a most enjoyable visit. My advice is to go early, we were the first group and managed to avoid all tourist busses, some arrived as we were leaving. The home can only take so many people at a time which is as it should be. The docent was knowledgeable and spoke very clearly, and the information and history was interesting. The line up going in was very organized at the start of the day with no wait, and all staff being refreshed and enthusiastic at the start of the day provided a lovely atmosphere. A wonderful memory.…
Date of experience: September 2019
2 Helpful votes
Carol G wrote a review Apr 2020
Atlantic City, New Jersey149 contributions67 helpful votes
This and all of the Shakespeare properties are fantastically maintained and managed. The docents at each property are world class.
Date of experience: April 2020
1 Helpful vote
Tricia Bannon wrote a review Mar 2020
Dublin, Ireland9 contributions
Enjoyable, a must see when you're in Stratford. House is well maintained and all the guides have great knowledge about the house.
Date of experience: March 2020