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UK: Warwickshire – Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

When I was at Univesity I had spent three years living close to Stratford-Upon-Avon but had never really explored it. So, it was about time to put that right. We planned a full-day looking around this small town in Warwickshire slap bang in the middle of England. 

Stratford is most famous, at least for visitors, as the home of William Shakespeare. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust oversees five properties associated with the playwright, including his birthplace, a garden and a museum at Shakespeare’s New Place.

One of the places we want to visit was Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Anne Hathaway married William Shakespeare in 1582. She is believed to have been born in 1556 in the cottage which was owned by her parents – she lived there until she married Shakespeare. The quaint cottage is located in the small village of Shottery, a mile or so from the centre of Stratford.

You can get to the cottage through the streets of Stratford and country paths, drive yourself or catch the hop-on-hop-off bus.

As well as the cottage, there are beautiful gardens to explore.

The gardens of Anne Hathaway's cottage in Shottery - near to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK
The gardens of Anne Hathaway's cottage in Shottery
The gardens of the Hathaway cottage are stunning - - near to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK
The gardens of the Hathaway cottage are stunning

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage was originally a farmhouse. It was built in 1463 and comprised only three rooms, two of which survive – the kitchen and the parlour. The first Hathaway to live in the cottage was Anne’s grandfather John Hathaway, who was a tenant sheep farmer. Anne, later Shakespeare’s wife, was born in the cottage in 1556.

When the site was a farm it was known as ‘Hewlands’ and the Hathaway family were successful sheep farmers. The garden was a farmyard with some livestock and space for growing herbs and vegetables.

Anne’s father died in 1581 and Anne’s brother Bartholomew inherited the tenancy of the 90-acre farm and he later bought the freehold. He then added an extension, increasing the size of the cottage and inserted new chimneys and an upper floor at the same time. This work was completed before Bartholomew’s death in 1624.

By the late 19th century, the family’s fortunes had declined. Some property including land and other houses were mortgaged, and eventually sold. In 1838 the cottage itself was sold, but the Hathaway family continued to live in the cottage as tenants.

One of the last Hathaways to live in the cottage was Mary Baker. When the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust purchased the cottage in 1892, Mary and her family were paid the large wage of £75 per year. Their duties were to share family stories and to care for the cottage, both of which we continue to do today. Her son William Baker occupied part of the cottage until he left in 1911.

The kitchen of the Anne Hathaway Cottage - Shottery, - near to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK
The kitchen

Planning your visit to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens can be reached via a pleasant 1.3 mile walk from the town centre which takes approximately 30 minutes.

getting there Address

Cottage Lane, Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 9HH

getting there By Train

Trains from London Marylebone with Chiltern Railways (chilternrailways.co.uk) take two hours, less if you change at Leamington Spa. It’s 40 minutes from Birmingham Moor Street/Snow Hill with London Midland (londonmidland.com).

getting there By Bus

National Express Coaches (nationalexpress.com) connect with cities such as London, Coventry and Bristol, but while cheaper, journeys are longer.

getting there By car

Transport links are not great so driving, sadly, could be the easiest way to arrive. But there are coach links and a railway station and you could always walk or cycle the 146-mile Shakespeare’s Way (shakespearesway.org) from Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

Website:https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/anne-hathaways-cottage/
Telephone:T:+44 1789 204016
Hours:Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is open every day from 9am to 5pm (April to October)
Fees:See website for latest entry fees

Best time to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon

April 23: Shakespeare’s birth and death day, week of the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk and early in the RSC’s Summer Season, when the town is stuffed with actors, the river looks gorgeous and everyone is fresh after winter.

Other things to do in and around Stratford-Upon-Avon

1. SHAKESPEARE’S NEW PLACE

Tower of London, byname the Tower, royal fortress and London landmark. Its buildings and grounds served historically as a royal palace, a political prison, a place of execution, an arsenal, a royal mint, a menagerie, and a public records office. It is located on the north bank of the River Thames.

2. SHAKESPEARE’S BIRTHPLACE

The birthplace of William Shakespeare is a modest tudor house in the centre of Stratford-Upon-Avon. William Shakespeare was born in this house and grew up here with his parents and siblings. He also spent the first five years of his marriage living here with his wife Anne Hathaway.

3. ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE

The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opened on our site next to the River Avon in 1879, after local brewer, Charles Flower donated the land and launched a campaign to build a theatre in the town of Shakespeare’s birth.

After the original theatre was destroyed by fire, the New Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opened its doors on an adjacent site in 1932, designed by Elisabeth Scott.

The Royal Shakespeare Company was founded in 1961 by Peter Hall, based in Stratford-upon-Avon and the theatre was renamed the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

4. WARWICK CASTLE

Of the many castles still around in the UK, Warwick Castle is the closest to my heart. I spent four of my most formative years at the University of Warwick – which is actually closer to the city of Coventry, but still I spent a lot of time in the town of Warwick and the castle was a constant backdrop to many of my happier memories of my youth.

5. CHARLECOTE PARK

The home of the Lucy family for over 700 years, the mellow brickwork and great chimneys of Charlecote seem to sum up the very essence of Tudor England. There are strong associations with both Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, who knew the house well. The early Victorian interior contains many objects from Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey and, outside, the balustraded formal garden opens onto a deer park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown.

Where to stay

1. YOUTH HOSTEL ALVESTON

Although it is referred to by the Youth Hostel Association as the ‘Stratford-Upon-Avon’ hostel, it is actually in the village of Alveston, which is about 5 miles outside of Stratford. So, getting in and out of town will mean you will need a car, or alternatively take public transport or a taxi!

This is low-cost accommodation and also works for backpackers! We actually had a private ensuite room – which was tiny but comfortable – with a set of bunk beds. The property is beautiful with lovely grounds. There is an onsite restaurant or you can self-cater.

2. SHAKESPEARE’S VIEW B&B

Shakespeare’s View is a 5-star bed and breakfast in Stratford-upon-Avon, surrounded by pretty grounds and a fruit orchard. Each bright room has free WiFi and views of the surrounding countryside.

Guests can sample a locally sourced breakfast whilst admiring commanding views over the Avon Valley. Shakespeare’s View boasts a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking its one acre of garden and orchards.

The pretty village of Snitterfield is a 5-minute walk away and includes a pub, local shop and golf course.

Free parking is available, with Stratford’s centre and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre just a 10-minute drive away.

3. MIDSUMMER HOUSE

Set in Stratford-upon-Avon in the Warwickshire region, with Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company nearby, Midsummer House offers accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking.

The bed and breakfast offers a à la carte or Full English/Irish breakfast.

Where to eat

PLANTARIUM CAFE

Being a tourist hub there are plenty of places to eat in and around Stratford. Of course, these cater for the masses, but if you are like us, vegan, the options are more limited. We did discover a small cafe in the centre of Stratford, the Plantarium, that is completely vegan. So, no need to think! It is a quaint place and the food was amazing – we recommend it highly.

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