Meet Anne Shakespeare, wife of the world’s greatest playwright William, and her brother Bartholomew Hathaway this December as they return to the cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon where their family lived for 400 years.

Costumed actors will transport visitors to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage back in time to 1615 to see the siblings locked in a discussion around the kitchen table. The topic: who will host Christmas? Will it be at Bartholomew’s cottage in the country, or a fancy town do at Anne and William’s New Place, the second largest house in Stratford?

The living history performances will take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout December, between 12pm and 4pm, giving an insight into the relationship between Anne and her elder brother. Visitors will also be able to try traditional Tudor food as they help decide who hosts Christmas Day. The costumes have been designed and made by volunteer Samera Abid, a Birmingham-based student in costume design.

The Hathaway family had been tenants of what was originally known as Hewlands Farm for almost 70 years when Bartholomew purchased the freehold in 1610, and it is possible that William and Anne gave him the money to buy and extend the house. It was bought by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892, but the family remained as tenants until 1911.

Emily White, house steward, said “Thirteen generations of the Hathaways lived at the cottage across 400 years, so we have many stories of the family’s life here to tell. We hope our visitors will relish the chance to get an insight into their lives from Anne and her brother Bartholomew.”

Read more about the Hathaways in this series of blogs.

Other highlights from Christmas at Shakespeare’s Family Homes include:

The Festival of Lost & Found
Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon
11th-15th December, all performances will be captioned (subtitled) using the Difference Engine
BSL-interpreted performance at 6pm on Saturday, 14th December.

Discover the garden betwixt times and join us on a curious journey in search of lost delights. On the site of Shakespeare’s final home, we invite you to wander through stalls and tents, meeting time-travelling show people as they share stories and display their wares. But one of them is harbouring a secret and needs your help to make sure it never reaches the stage. A charming midwinter theatrical experience for all the family brought to you by Coventry-based theatre company, Talking Birds and supported by Arts Council England. For information and tickets, see

Father Christmas
Hall’s Croft
7th, 8th, 14th & 15th December, 11am-4pm
BSL-interpreted sessions on 14th December, 11am-2pm

Father Christmas and Mrs Christmas will be stopping by Hall’s Croft. Each child will receive a charming gift with their name on it and the festive experience continues in the cafe where children can decorate their very own Christmas biscuits to take home, or enjoy there and then! Tickets £10 per child, timed entry, advance booking required at

Flowers of Winter
Shakespeare’s Birthplace
14th December-5th January

See Shakespeare’s Birthplace like never before — filled with flowers for the festive season. Specially curated floral displays by March Hare Floral Design, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Tuckshop Flowers, Birmingham, will be inspired by traditional Tudor winter blooms that will help to tell the story of Shakespeare’s life and works. Normal admission fee applies.

Mary Arden: Town and Country, Preparing for Christmas
Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Monday 25th and Saturday 30th November, 12pm-4pm

Hear about how life would have changed for Mary Arden, Shakespeare’s mother, after her marriage to John Shakespeare, and her subsequent move from the village of Wilmcote into Stratford-upon-Avon, and how preparations for Christmas would have been both familiar, and a little different, between the town and the country. Normal admission fee applies.

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