Anne Hathaway’s family home has been described as the UK’s most romantic cottage – a well-deserved reputation with its timber beams, thatched roof, sprawling orchards and woodland walks. This cottage, located one mile outside Stratford-upon-Avon in the village of Shottery, is where Anne Hathaway lived before marrying the teenage William Shakespeare at Holy Trinity Church in 1582. Shortly after they moved next door to the Shakespeare family home in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Now cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the house is open to visitors all year round.
A Tour of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
The beautiful gardens that surround the cottage today are a fairly recent addition added in the 19th century. In Anne Hathaway’s day, the area would have been a working farm, tended to by her father, Richard Hathaway.
The first room you come to is the hall, where guests would have been entertained by the Hathaway family. The room features an elm-boarded settle (a kind of bench near the fireplace). It is claimed that Anne Hathaway and the young Shakespeare sat here when they were courting. However, there is no evidence to support this claim and many believe that the settle dates from a later period.
Either side of the Hall is a kitchen and buttery. Both rooms display traditional 16th-century housekeeping objects including baking utensils and cheese-making equipment. The open fireplace in the kitchen features a bread oven built into the brick with a wooden door (called a “stop”).
Next to the buttery is a cold room which would have been used to store ale and general provisions. Ale was very popular in the 16th century and would have been drunk instead of water. People knew that many diseases were carried in water, and so eight pints of ale per day was considered to be safer – even for the children!
The run of first floor rooms are all bedrooms dressed with period furniture. Of particular note is the family’s most famous heirloom: a finely carved four-poster bed, valued at £3 when Anne Hathaway’s eldest brother died in 1624.
In the same room, you can see the Shakespeare Chair. Details from Shakespeare’s coat of arms have been carved into this 17th-century chair, but the chair was lost in 1792 when a visitor to the house persuaded the owner to sell it. Two centuries later, the chair resurfaced at auction and was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 2002. It now sits on display next to Anne Hathaway’s bed in Shottery.