Visiting the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust houses is one of my favorite kid-friendly weekend activities. We’ve made more than enough use of our 12 month passes to make the cost worthwhile. On one of our first days out — before we had even moved in to our house — when I was still in the middle of insane transition emotions — we visited Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, and I fell just a little bit in love. Of course that was inevitable. It’s “the most romantic” of the Shakespeare Houses, and is preserved in a state meant to remind visitors of love and fantasy.
Our most frequent visit is to Mary Arden’s Farm, with its many children’s activities, festivals, farm animals, birds of prey exhibitions, play yard, and walks. But the overflowing gardens and whimsical walks at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage never fail to please — especially when paired with a stroll to the lovely waterside tea room across the street.
I’ll be honest with you. I love fairies, and fairy stories. Evil fairies, pretty fairies, fairies that make you insane or save your life — I love them all. So I was probably more excited about the fairy trail than my children.
My youngest especially loved the small touches of palm-sized fairies hanging about on benches or by logs. We all enjoyed reading the quotes from Midsummers Night Dream posted on trees along the trail. Educational and fantastical.
Since this has been the wettest summer in the UK in a hundred years, it was likely also inevitable that the fairy displays would be a little … damp .. and probably not showing to their best advantage. Although I think that little pink haired troll peeking out from under her leaf is cute.
Pretty fairies everywhere.
Or their flying garden fish. Oh, is that not normal? Right, it’s part of the willow sculpture trail.
And overlooking everything, the gorgeous mis-matched chock-a-block mice-in-the-thatching ‘vernacular Tudor’ crazy sprawling cottage where Shakespeare wooed Anne Hathaway. No photos allowed inside, which is a shame (for tourists, if not for the gift shop books for sale around the corner). Guides inside are full of delightful historical and random trivia, and don’t usually seem too worried about children running up and down the steep and narrow stairs of death.
Way back when we first moved to England (waaaaay back, a million years ago last year) I had a tiny fantasy that we would live in a ‘cottage’ like this. It would be just like masterpiece theatre. Turns out modern plumbing and electricity and washing machines are pretty nice after all, and visiting for the day is all I need. Hmm, wonder if we could attract any fairies to our garden with some well-placed bowers and pink haired trolls?