While waiting for the sun to set over Warwick Castle, I decided to hop down to Stratford-Upon-Avon for a quick look at Shakespeare’s hometown. Just a mile outside of town, in a village called Shottery, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage awaits Shakespeare-loving tourists. It costs $13 to get in, which I found to be quite expensive for what you get. I didn’t care too much to tour the interior, but they’ve built hedges all along the property so it would have been impossible to get a good picture without paying the entrance fee. So alas, I paid up. It was definitely interesting, and I do not regret it.
Although it is often called a cottage, it’s actually a large, twelve-roomed farmhouse. The earliest part of the house was built in the 15th century. The cottage was originally known as Newlands Farm in Shakespeare’s day and had more than 90 acres of land attached to it. Today it sits on a small (but beautifully landscaped) piece of land, and attracts over 50,000 tourists every year.
Anne was born in 1556, eight years before William Shakespeare. She was the daughter of a prosperous farmer. Many historians think they had an unhappy union, but there is actually no proof of that. Though he lived and worked in London while Anne stayed in Stratford, he did eventually move back and settle down in Stratford with his wife.
I’ve visited dozens of castles over the 6 months, and all seem to pale in comparison to Warwick Castle – at least in terms of preservation. Warwick seems frozen in time as if not a single battle or storm could shake its walls. As such, Warwick Castle is often hailed as England’s greatest Medieval castle, and I can see why.
The castle first appeared on this site in 1068 at the command of William the Conqueror. Its bloody history is steeped in treachery, murder, mystery and intrigue, and it has passed through several great dynasties – the Beaumonts and Beauchamps, the Nevilles, the Dudleys, the Richs and the Grevilles. And yet, here it stands nearly 1,000 years later as if its never been touched.