One bright, early, August morning, I boarded a coach bus with other tourists. It was my first visit to the UK. We ventured from London, through the Cotswolds, destined for William Shakespeare’s town of Stratford on Avon.
The Cotswolds proved to be as picturesque as imagined. After snooping in little shops and sipping tea solo next to a graveyard, I returned swiftly to my seat on the bus. Unfortunately, there were some passengers, who never came back on time, so we had to leave without them! I instantly felt nervous for them, their belongings left on seats directly in front of me. Sinking down into my spot, I grimaced and closed my eyes asking Our Lady and their guardian angels to help them find their way back to Ye London Town. While others, raucously encouraged the driver to press on!
Throughout the drive, the countryside took my breathe away.
Arriving in Cottage Lane, we approached the twelve bedroom house, I spied a dear garden in front which was busy with workers. Before I entered, I exchanged words with the old gardener who caught me eyeing off some gigantic turnips. He stated one would be his dinner. I suggested he might have to fight a certain Peter Rabbit for it who I swore had travelled far in pursuit of loot and hid under the blackberry bush as we entered. He chuckled.
The house itself is the birth and childhood home of Anne Hathaway who was William Shakespeare’s wife. Not much is known about her which I find a little mysterious and intriguing. Her farming father who owned the house, sadly died, eventually leaving Anne and William a small sum of money to use for their wedding and early married life. Though they didn’t live in this house for long, together the couple filled their lives with a gaggle of children. This made me think fondly of my own which I had left home down under.
I was desperate to explore inside, carefully noting the low beams, which made me duck my head. I wondered how giants would have lived in a place such as this? I think back then, people were most definitely shorter!
The wooden floor which was uneven spread under my feet. It reminded me of old rickety wood from a railway track. It creaked as I stepped upon it. Upstairs, beds were made of what seemed like itchy looking hessian. Small wooden shoes were placed beside. The shadows of those who once walked this sweet home, were now sketched in the memory of the faded candlelight which had burnt out long ago. By looking straight up you could see underneath the thatched roof which had been diligently restored. Wire held it firmly in place. We were told, It is a very costly way to make a roof, however it lasts an incredibly long time.
A few dusty books were dotted around the house. Old recipe notes lay across the dining table and copper pots and pans adorned the kitchen. It seemed popular and practical at the time, to leave springs of herbs and flowers which while drying, filled the air with sweet smells such as lavender and thyme. Though we had limited time, I meandered a little, poking my nose in various rooms here and there.
Eventually, a smoothed back step which was worn down from hundreds of years of being treaded on, took me again out to the garden. I stood frozen in modern time while busy bees, buzzed by. I slowly soaked in the final details before we headed east. I breathed in the history of the place which had caught this historical house lover’s attention, the moment I set my beady eyes on it in the brochure. The serene place which Anne Hathaway called ‘home’.
Have you visited here? What do you think of thatched roves? Ever hit your head on a low lying beam before?