A 30 minute walk from Stratford upon Avon’s town centre is Anne Hathaway’s Cottage; a beautiful, 500 year old building at which the young William Shakespeare courted his bride-to-be. Whilst the walk is not the most scenic, the cottage is definitely worth the miles – as is the huge apple orchard you’re greeted with when you enter.
^ In this little hideaway, there is a machine where you can choose from four different sonnets to be read out loud for you: Sonnet 18 (my personal favourite), Sonnet 130, Sonnet 116 and Sonnet 29. There is also a little bench to sit on and listen to the soothing voices, reading one or all of the sonnets for you.
Once you’ve walked through the orchard, there is a beautiful garden, where flowers and vegetables are grown, as well as this impressive sculpture. As I went in October, the garden was not in full bloom but it gives a very homely feeling nonetheless.
Don’t worry, you’ll get another chance to marvel at the garden, but let’s step inside the cottage first, shall we?
The very knowledgeable staff of the Shakespeare birthplace trust are there to tell you a little bit more about William’s and Anne’s relationship, their scandalous marriage (he was only 18 when they got married; she was 26) and life together. You also learn about what the house looked like when it was built in 1463, how the Hathaway’s changed it according to the times and what Anne’s brother did to it after inheriting it.
Take your time exploring all the different rooms, props and stories; it took me just over an hour to get through it all. When you’re done, there’s more time to have a good look at the beautiful garden.
Before you leave, make sure to check out the gift shop at the end. And if all that learning made you feel a bit peckish, there’s a rather cute cafe on the opposite side of the road, which offers refreshments and cake so that you can fuel up for the walk back into town!
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is open from 9am – 5pm. I highly recommend going first thing in the morning and taking the tranquility and peaceful silence all in. Find it at 22 Cottage Lane, Shottery, CV37 9HH.