It’s a step back in time you won’t want to miss. Guided tours of the full size replica of Anne Hathaway’s Thatched Cottage are no longer available. You can, however, stroll the Authentic English Village, visit the Olde Curiosity Shop for gifts, partake of food and refreshment in the restaurant or pub, in the Olde England Inn, where the cottage is located. It’s all set on 5 acres of beautiful gardens, just 10 minutes from downtown. One way to see the interior of the cottage is to book it for a special function.
NB: Since new owners have acquired the property it does not appear the inside tours are any longer available except perhaps for large groups. The exterior of the cottage and surrounding gardens can, however, be viewed without admission during daylight hours. Wedding parties can also book the facilities. Please call Toll Free: 1-866-388-4353 for current information to avoid disappointment.
Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Victoria, British Columbia is twelve room farmhouse is an exact replica of the original cottage which stands in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England. The antique furniture in the cottage originally came from England and most of the pieces date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. This 50 minute tour is almost a step back into Elizabethan England. Starting in the kitchen and by moving room to room our guests learn about the lifestyles of the Elizabethans, how they lived, loved and died, and of course how Anne & William Shakespeare came to be married.
One of the most popular aspects of our tour is learning the origin of some of the old phrases and sayings such as "The Upper Crust", "Mind your P's and Q's", "Fit to Be Tied" and "The Short of The Stick" originated, by taking the tour these and many, many more will be explained.
The Enhanced Cottage Tour Experience is a revitalized version of the above, which incorporates Shakespeare's literary works with the cottage tour adding live theatrical vignettes to entertain you. Envision A Midsummer's Night Dream coming alive as you enter the cottage, the kitchen becomes a stage for The Taming Of The Shrew and who could forget Juliet's heart aching for her dear Romeo, "Spread thy close curtain, love performing night! That rude day's eyes may wink and Romeo leap to these arms, untalk'd of and unseen". An extremely entertaining production, the Enhanced Cottage Tour is one part museum, one part theatre and ten parts pure Shakespearean fun. Inquire about our interactive version of the Enhanced Cottage Tour Experience.
Whereas the cottage Tour deals only with the 16th century, The Manor Tour takes you through the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This is a summer season tour as 50% of the tour is an outside walking tour so it is weather permitting. It has also proven to be very popular.
The tour starts outside Shakespeare's birthplace and talks about the history of this famous house, then walking along the village green stopping at each of the theme houses to tell the story of that particular house. There is also a visit to the Pillory, a very popular stop as it becomes a photo opportunity especially for the younger tourists. The tour then moves into the Manor House, which in itself is a virtual museum full of wonderful antiques. Rosemead (the original name of the Manor House) was designed by Samuel McLure a very prominent architect in Canada at the turn of the century. Until 1946 when the Lanes bought the house some very important people lived at Rosemead and we talk briefly about them.
The most exciting aspect of this tour is when the guests are taken to "Special Bedrooms". These bedrooms in their own right are magnificent, but when you tell the ghost stories that go along with them, it adds even more excitement to the tour.
Of History and Anne Hathaway
An Esquimalt News feature
By Mark Browne
The study of Elizabethan history doesn't necessarily have to involve making a trip to the library and hauling out a bunch of dusty old history books. If you want to get a really good sense of what it was like in the 16th and early 17th centuries you might want to seriously consider taking a tour of Anne Hathaway's Cottage at the English Inn and Resort. The News visited the cottage at the Lampson Street establishment and received a good history lesson on what life was like back in the days of William Shakespeare.
"This is an original copy of the original Anne Hathaway's (cottage)," notes English Inn and Resort tour guide Gerry Parish about the replica building built in 1959. "Item for item, detail for detail it's very close."
However, some changes had to be made for various practical reasons. For instance, says Parish, to meet building code requirements the ceilings had to be raised. And, it should be noted, the original cottage in England didn't actually have ceilings as the thatched roof was all that existed above peoples' heads. (One tiny room in the local replica version of the cottage doesn't have a ceiling so people can get an idea of what the original establishment looked like.)
The thatched roof on the cottage at the English Inn and Resort was put together by workers from England who have the necessary skills to handle such a job, notes Parish.
As Parish took the News and a group of tourists for a tour of the cottage he provided all kids of interesting facts as well as a number of terms that people used in those days and which are still in common use to this very day.
The original cottage in England was actually called Hewland's Farm, Parish points out. The farm was run by the wealthy (at least in terms of land) Hathaway family from 1412-1892. It was Anne Hathaway who married Shakespeare at the age of 26--which is those days meant she was getting up there in years, he says.
He points out that life was so rough and unhealthy that people typically didn't live longer than 40 years.
"You were middle-aged at 20, which is a scary thought," says Parish
And most people couldn't read and write. Even many well-to-do families who owned farms were illiterate. Parish notes Anne Hathaway signed an "X" for her signature on her wedding certificate when she married Shakespeare.
In the cottage's kitchen Parish pointed to the floor that was made out of slate-unlike the dirt floors that existed in the kitchens of those who weren't so well off.
The Dirt Poor and the Upper Crust
"It was a sign of wealth, if you settled for dirt you were called 'dirt poor' for that reason," he says.
The kitchen's firebrick oven was used to bake bread. The better tasting "upper crust" of that bread was reserved for guests since they were considered a cut above the rest, says Parish.
Health conditions were so bad in those days that three out of five children never made it to their 10th birthdays, he points out. Lead poisoning was common in those days as the metal plates that were on display at the cottage gave many people lead poisoning, says Parish.
The effects of lead poisoning often resulted in people slipping into comas. Many of those unconscious people appeared dead by the color of their faces, and sine taking pulses was unheard of back then they were often assumed to be dead, says Parish.. As a result about one in 20 people were buried alive.
This became evident after graves started getting dug up to make room for more graves since so many people were dying, he says. Some of the coffins had scratch marks in them which clearly suggested someone was buried alive and trying to escape.
Saved by the Bell on the Graveyard Shift
To deal with this problem, strings were placed in coffins and bells would be attached to the strings above ground. A "Graveyard shift" was assigned to listen for any bell ringing in case someone was buried alive, says parish. If that was the case they would get dug up and in effect be "saved by the bell", he says.
Life for the unskilled farm workers who stayed at the cottage was quite grim, says Parish. They worked seven days a week and often slept in wet clothes. Parish showed one of the replica bedrooms, as part of the tour, where in the original cottage 35 men had to sleep. It wasn't a big bedroom.
Anyone who tried to sneak onto the original farm back in the Elizabethan days for the purpose of steeling a sheep could have their legs caught in a man-trap and often bleed to death, says Parish, who presented such a trap.
Take the tour get the Cold Shoulder
Richard Hathaway's room (the nicest room in the cottage) was where women in the Hathaway family would be introduced to potential husbands who would come by and sit beside the women. If the women didn't like the men a curtain behind the chair would be pulled back on the man's side so the cold air on his back from outside would convince him it was time to leave, says parish. That man would have gotten the "cold shoulder".
Parish says management at the English Inn and Resort are hoping to attract local schools to take tours of the cottage as that would be a great way of learning about history of the Elizabethan period.
Anne Hathaway's a great teaching tool
By: Ian Dutton
(Times colonist staff)
For a seven year old, four years is an eternity and
400 an absurdity-but kids love the absurd.
A 400-plus year old cottage is no exception.
A class of Grade 2/3 students from Macauley elementary took a tour of a replica of Anne Hathaway's cottage last week and sat entranced as tour guide Gerry parish led them on a Cook's tour of the Elizabethan period.
Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, lived in Stratford upon Avon before marrying the playwright and the cottage, a replica built on the grounds of the English Inn and Resort in Esquimalt in 1959, is crafted to give a sense of the period.
Teacher Merete LeRoy said the tour was a valuable educational experience for the students, even though it was usually aimed at intermediate or older students.
"They're learning to understand what life was like in those days and to appreciate a lot of the things they have today," LeRoy said of the students.
"And the dramatic kind of presentation the tour gives them really appeals to them, gets them right into the story. I'm really pleased with the level of interest they're showing because it's usually older students who get to do this."
Parish regaled the students with tales of the times, pointing out that even their tender age they would be expected to work for their bread.
He also pointed out the origin of phases that are in common use today-like upper crust (the part of the bread that went to honored guests), sleep tight (ropes running though the bed frame to support the mattress loosened with use, and had to be tightened to make them more comfortable) and the short end of the stick ( a shorter-than-usual tallow candle was used when unwelcome guests arrived.)
Parish, a professional actor whose English accent and enthusiasm for the job are as authentic as the cottage is not, said the job is delightful.
"The kids are great, though usually we're dealing with older ones who are studying Shakespeare in school," said Parish. "And for the older kids the tour is quite a bit different, more about the plays and how they fit with the history of the time and so on."
"In the summer we're really busy and we're doing tours non-stop, which can be a bit wearing, but they're different for seniors and for young people and so on to break things up a bit."
"But I really love history and especially Elizabethan history and that makes this job pretty terrific."
He said he visited the original Hathaway cottage in 1995, before he became the head guide at the Esquimalt version.
"They don't explain anything there just hustle you through to the gift shop. They think that if you've made the pilgrimage to see the place, then you should already know all that lot, but of course you don't-why would you."
"I've had a lot of tourists come through here who have been in the original and they say, 'Is that what that was all about."
"They tell me they learn a lot more here that they did in England."
Parish said students respond well to the tours becausethey get a better idea of what life was like-including sleeping 30 to a room-and because it helps explain some of the themes, motives and language in Shakespeare's writings.
"And in all the time I've been doing this I've never heard anyone say, 'That wasn't as good as I thought it would be.' I've had people who didn't want to be here, usually their wives dragged them out and they'd rather be in the bar watching the ball game, but by the end of the tour they're laughing and they're into it."
"There's the ones who often say 'That was a lot better than I expected."