Our Shakespeare’s Birthplace ticket covered Nash’s House and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. The Cottage is a bit of a walk out of the town so we strolled round the town first. There are some beautiful buildings dating from the Tudor period and later, and we sat in the lovely black-and-white timbered Elizabethan pub, The Garrick Inn, for a nice spot of lunch. I also stopped to look at a huge old building with ‘God Save the King’ in large faded letters across it which i discovered was the old Town Hall. It is on the corner of Chapel Street and Sheep Street where, as you might expect, sheep used to be brought to be slaughtered.
We then took the long walk behind the houses out of Stratford to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, technically in the hamlet of Shottery, which is nice if the weather is ok but it’s quite far to get caught in the rain so I would recommend driving if you can! The cottage was the childhood home of Anne, where she lived with her parents Richard and Joan until she married William Shakespeare in 1582 while pregnant with their first child. The house is a large farmhouse now but when it was built in the late 15th century it was tiny and was increased in size over the years. When Anne lived there it only really consisted of two rooms and she slept together with her brothers and sisters. The house still contains original furniture now, including the Hathaway bed from Anne’s time there.
I remember coming to the cottage when I was a child and being told that one of the wooden benches there was definitely where William Shakespeare had sat with Anne when they were courting. When i returned this time, our tour guide said this was just a myth, spread by one of the later inhabitants of the cottage! The house is large and beautiful with well-kept gardens and a small wooded area with a walking path through it. It also has an incredible roof which had just been re-thatched when I visited. After Anne left the house, it stayed in the Hathaway family until 1746 and was still occupied in 1892, when it was taken over by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.