Anne Hathaway's Cottage - An Early Glimpse of Shakespeare in Love

Anne Hathaways Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon
••• Anne Hathaways Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon. ©Ferne Arfin

Famous for it's chocolate box-pretty thatched roof and quintessential English cottage garden, Anne Hathaway's cottage also sheds light on Shakespeare's early marriage to a much older woman. And, contrary to rumors, it looks like it was a love match.

 

The childhood home of Shakespeare's bride:

Anne Hathaway's cottage remained occupied by descendants of her family until the late 19th century. It contains rare family furniture that dates back to Anne's day.

It's romantic to think of the beautiful Hathaway bed as Shakespeare's marital bed, but it probably wasn't. More likely, it is the bed valued at £3 in an inventory that was part of Anne Hathaway's brother's will.

The ideal English cottage garden:

Imagine the perfect English cottage garden, filled with a profusion of apparently carelessly arranged flowers and shrubs and you probably have Anne Hathaway's cottage in mind. The garden is every bit as lovely as every picture postcard you've ever seen of it.

Gardening fans will also enjoy:

  • The fruit orchard
  • The maze
  • The growing willow house, inspired by Twelfth Night
  • The Shakespeare Tree and Sculpture garden filled with trees mentioned in the plays and sculpture inspired by them
  • The exhibition on organic farming and the use of herbs in medicine and cooking.

The scandalous marriage:

Each of the houses owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust illustrates a different aspect of Shakespeare's life and times.

In Anne's house, the guides relate the scandal of Shakespeare's marriage: the young son of a good local family marrying a much older woman, well past the customary marrying age, was enough to set tongues wagging. The marriage took place without posting of the bans - an essential part of English custom and law - and required a special licence from the bishop.

Shakespeare's eldest daughter, Susanna, came along a lot sooner than expected. As they say in England - you do the maths.

A case of marry in haste, regret in leisure, then?:

Well who knows. It's a widely known story that he ran off to make his fortune in London, leaving Anne with his family in Stratford-upon-Avon. But, by the time he left his family, he and Anne had already had three children. And, in the end, he returned to live out his short retirement with her in Stratford-upon-Avon, leaving Anne a very rich widow.

And besides the beautifully landscaped grounds?:

There is an excellent gift shop with merchandise inspired by the house itself. That includes a good selection of gardening books and tools, flower pictures, seeds and plants. A Tea Garden, across the road, is open during the Spring and Summer seasons.

Buy Tickets Online:

Tickets for the Shakespeare Houses are now available online. And don't forget, all of the Shakespeare Houses are included in the Great British Heritage Pass, the best unlimited admission pass (for overseas visitors) that we've ever seen.

Essentials:

  • Where: Cottage Lane, Shottery, 1 mile from Stratford-upon-Avon town center
  • Hours:
    • June-August, from 9 a.m. Monday to Saturday and from 9:30 a.m. Sundays. Last entry 5 p.m.
    • April-May and September-October, from 9:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. Sundays. Last entry 5p.m.
    • November-March, from 10 a.m. Last entry 4 p.m.
  • Admission: Adult, child, senior and family tickets available £13.00.
  • Telephone: (011 from the USA) 44 (0)1789 292 100
  • Visit the website
To save, buy a multiple ticket for all 5 Shakespeare houses. It's valid indefinitely. Visit one house this year, return next year to see another!