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Thursday, November 17, 2016

UK & Canary Islands Travelogue | Shakespeare's Birthplace

I do not usually have breakfast in Singapore because I usually time my morning alarm to the exact time I need to get ready to go out/to work. Travelling with my parents though, I find myself awake with time to get ready and have breakfast as well which is a lot healthier. 

A typical breakfast for me whilst I'm on holiday would usually include some fruit, cereal, one slice of toast and a cup of tea. Sometimes I will find the space in my tummy for a cup of yoghurt as well. Considering how I don't usually eat breakfast, I think it's amazing I manage to stomach this much food.

This day is an exciting one for all the Shakespeare lovers out there because we got to visit Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. I actually majored in literature when I was in Secondary school so I knew a little about Shakespeare's works although I didn't know much about his history.

As the ticket prices into the various places were slightly pricey, and while I did admire his works, I didn't think it worth it to drag both my parents in with me (my mum has been into those places before and my dad just wasn't that interested) so all we did was to wander around the outside of the houses.

The first place we went to was to Anne Hathaway's Cottage.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage was originally a farmhouse. It was built in 1463 of cruck construction, when the building would have comprised just two rooms, the kitchen and hall connected by the cross passageway between. We believe the first Hathaway to live in the house was Anne’s grandfather John Hathaway, who was a tenant farmer. Anne, later Shakespeare’s wife was born here in 1556. 

When the site was a farm the house was known as ‘Hewlands’ and the Hathaway family were very successful sheep farmers. The garden would have been a farmyard with some livestock and likely a herb garden. 

After the death of Anne’s father in 1581, Anne’s brother Bartholomew inherited the tenancy of the 90-acre farm and later bought it freehold. He went on to make various improvements to Anne Hathaway’s house and the first floor is a conversion completed by Bartholomew before the construction of the two-story section in around 1623. 

By the late 18th Century the family’s fortunes were on the wane, some land was sold and Hewland’s ceased to be a farm. The last Hathaway to own the cottage was Mary Baker, who sold the property to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892. Her son William Baker still occupied part of the cottage and was allowed to live there rent free for the rest of his life, assisting with custodian duties until his death in 1911. (Credit: x)

We also drove to Shakespeare's Birthplace which was nestled in this little market space with loads of live performances and little shops.

William Shakespeare was born in this house and grew up here with his parents and siblings. He also spent the first five years of his marriage living here with his wife Anne Hathaway. John and Mary Shakespeare were wealthy enough to own the largest house on Henley Street.

John Shakespeare lived and worked in this house for fifty years. When he married Mary Arden she came to live with him and they had a total of eight children, William was the third to be born. In 1568 John became the Mayor of Stratford, which was the highest elective office in town. On Sunday, dressed in his fine red robes, he would have been escorted to Holy Trinity church to attend mass. It was because of his father's status as Mayor that William was privileged enough to have attended the local grammar school to begin his education.

John Shakespeare died in 1601 and as the eldest surviving child, William inherited the house. He leased part of the property and it became an inn called the Maidenhead (and later the Swan and Maidenhead). The inn remained until 1847. When Shakespeare died he left the house to his eldest daughter Susanna, and when she died she left it to her only child, Elizabeth.

Although she married twice Elizabeth had no children, so when she died, the house fell to a descendant of John Hart, one of Shakespeare's sisters. The house was owned by the Hart family until the late 18th century, until it went up for sale and was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1847. (Credit: x)

We had a pretty long drive ahead of us so we decided not to stay too long and to start off on our journey earlier. We were driving up all the way to Snowdonia in Wales and it took us about 3 and a half hour. 

After a really long drive, we finally found ourselves in Snowdonia and we checked into Bwlch Y Fedwen B&B. If you were to ask me how to pronounce the name I will honestly not be able to do so. Welsh names do not sound anything like the way they are spelt we had a pretty hard time asking for directions when we were in Snowdonia.

My room was the loveliest little room I had ever seen with purple everything. I had a purple bed, purple pillows, purple walls, purple curtains, purple carpet even purple towels. Although purple isn't exactly my favourite colour, it still was great to be surrounded by all the amazingness.

Even my parents room was amazing in all the taupe and nude shades. The lady owner was really warm and welcoming as well and you can really tell that she is a house proud lady because every aspect of the room was very lovingly put together.

For dinner, we decided to head out to the town center for some food and we found ourselves in Themadog and we had dinner at Y Sgwar. We opted for dishes we wouldn't normally try and while I have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of what I chose (a halloumi salad), I was glad I did something out of my comfort zone.

Herb roast chicken breast, harricot bean and chorizo cassoulet, baby spinach, basil oil (£17)

Traditional roast Welsh lamb with boulangere potatoes and minted gravy

Pan fried halloumi, roasted tomatoes and capers, balsamic reduction (£6.50)

Berries and vanilla ice cream

Thank you so much for reading! x

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