Stratford-upon-Avon, Anne Hathaway’s house.

Not having Adrian’s second daughter and her partner with us on our was back to Sale we decided to take the long way back through the country and small villages. We were booked in for another night at our first stop so didn’t have to worry about finding a place for the night.   It was a lovely drive and it gave us a look of things to come. We still had another week of our holiday up our sleeve to explore.

The next day we packed our bags and headed to Stratford-upon-Avon. The home of William Shakespeare. We started our tour of the village at Anne Hathaway’s house.

The house is set up as it would have been in Anne’s time.

When we entered the house into what would have been a lounge and greeted with a staff member dressed in period costume. He gave us a brief history about Anne and William. Well mostly it was about William.

William was 8 years younger than Anne.

William didn’t start his writing career, as we now know it until 1592

When William died he left Anne the second best bed in the house and not much more.

That is very interesting but what about Anne? Very little is known about her. I had to do my own research on her as most of the information about Anne was all about her bed.

What I did find out was: Anne’s farmer was a ‘Yeoman farmer’, which meant he owned land. Not bad for the times. On his death (which was a year before Anne married,) he left Anne the sum of £6, 13 shillings and 4 pence to be paid on the day of her marriage. Most likely the money was handed over to William and Anne never received any of it.

It seems Anne was pregnant when she married William. Some items I read has suggested William was forced to marry her as he was getting ready to marry someone else.   They suggested this is why William left Stratford to pursue a career in the theatre and stayed away for so long only coming back once a year. Others would have it that William pursued Anne. After all she was from a wealthy family and William’s family at the time was in some financial difficulty. Anne’s family also had good standing in the local society.

We wandered though the house. Adrian had to duck his head more than once. It was a lot grander than I was expecting. Yes we did get to see ‘The Bed’ and it is impressive. The head board has lovely carving as well as the bedposts.

The bed stayed in the family for many years and over that time changes were made to it. The age of the bed now ranges from 1550 to 1630.  I was very impressed to see the base of the bed was made of a rope-supporting mattress. I had thought the saying “sleep tight’ comes the tighten of the ropes for a comfortable night sleep. When I looked into it I found it wasn’t the case and the saying simply meant ‘sleep soundly.’ That is no fun at all. I like the story that when a guest had out stayed their welcome the ropes would slowly be loosened so the mattress would start to sink and be uncomfortable giving the unwanted guest the hint it was time to leave. If you went off to bed and the person you were staying with said “sleep tight” you knew you were still welcomed.

It seem beds were very expensive during the 1500 and 1600s so no wonder guests would often stay a long time. Most poor people of the time would sleep on the floor on a pallet. (A pallet was a straw mattress often rolled up during the day.)

If you had a bed you would generally have a second room and if any guest would come you would offer the bed to the guest. If you could afford to have more than one bed you would have at least two bedrooms, (rich indeed) you would sleep in the second best bed and keep the best bed for visitors. How times have changes.

We finished up in the kitchen. It is said to still be in the original form. Anne’s grandfather has been given the credit for laying the stones for the floor in 1540s. the thought of walking where William and Anne walked all those years ago added another depth to the house.  Walking on history. Loved it.

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