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Historic Cottages In The UK
Historic cottages and famous people
There is something very serene and romantic about a historic cottage in particular. Whether you own one, rent it or visit, they make your experience and intimate one with the past and history's famous people.
This is because they are smaller than other locations such as the country estate mansions and castles. Beautiful as they are, mansions and castles can feel impersonal or unreal. With some of the historic cottages in the UK your experience of the past is entirely different.
Queen Charlotte's Cottage Interior
Queen Charlotte and King George III enjoyed having a quiet retreat rather than large groups of courtiers gathered about them all the time.
The King had bought a property named Buckingham House to have privacy with family and close friends. Both the King and Queen Charlotte moved there in 1762. This house would later become Buckingham Palace, the official residence for the royal family in London.
Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew Gardens, London
The Kew Gardens cottage of Queen Charlotte can be found in the grounds of Kew Palace.
Kew Palace itself was built in 1631 on the foundations of an earlier Elizabethan house. The palace went through many rich owners. In 1729 King George II and Queen Caroline bought the property.
It was later in the century, 1754, when Queen Charlotte built the cottage near to the palace as a quiet rustic retreat. It was an ideal place to entertain family and close friends.
There are many reports of the royal couple having friends and family for the traditional tea on the lawn and enjoying walks through the gardens.
Queen Charlotte and her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, were largely responsible for the building of the cottage as we see it now. In fact part of the art work decorating some areas of the cottage are thought to be the work of the Princess who had artistic ability.
The cottage in Queen Charlotte's time also overlooked a menagerie of exotic animals. It was known that Queen Caroline kept tigers, but it seems that Queen Charlotte preferred animals of a less aggressive nature such as exotic birds. In 1792, the first kangaroos to arrive in Britain were kept at the menagerie here.
This fascinating cottage is open to the public, offering a peak into the private life of Queen Charlotte and her family. Hopefully this will also bring her closer and more into the public eye as she has been sadly neglected as a UK monarch both in her own time and today.
Certainly she has had places named after her - such as Charlotte Square in Edinburgh - but compared to other queens she didn't always get the loyalty she perhaps deserved. She is of course better known as the queen who stood by her husband who became 'insane'. Although its now believed that King George III suffered from porphyria which can cause severe mental health problems and hallucinations when it flares up.
However, Queen Charlotte was also talked about due to her lack of looks. Unfortunately she was even called 'ugly' by a few people who had met her. Looking at some of her portraits she doesn't look all that bad, but then portrait painters did tend to show their subject in the best possible light.
Even although she might not have been a looker, it shouldn't be a reason for thinking less of someone whether they are royalty or not. However, when it comes to taste and interior design then no one could complain about Queen Charlotte as we can see from her delightful cottage in Kew Gardens.
1. Jean Armour - also known as 'Bonnie Jean' gave birth to numerous children. The youngest child was a boy called Maxwell. Uncannily the baby was born on the same day and almost at the same time as his father, Robert Burns, died.
2. Bob Dylan, the American music legend stated that the song that had given him the greatest inspiration was 'A Red, Red Rose' written in 1794 by Robert Burns.
3. The title of the classic book 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck, was based on a line from Robert Burn's poem 'To a Mouse'.
Robert Burn's Cottage, Alloway, Ayr, Scotland
Scotland's national poet was born in this famous cottage on 25th January, 1759.
Robert lived in the cottage until he was about 7 years of age and his father was largely responsible for his education. There is no doubt that the bard's first home had an influence on the man he was to become.
Throughout his tragically short life, Burns had a number of relationships with women that inspired him to love and write some of his beautiful poems and songs.
Despite his extra marital affairs, he remained with Jean Armour, the girl he lived with and eventually married. Together they had nine children, among them two sets of twins, although sadly only 3 children lived to survive Robert and Jean.
Because of his love affairs, Burns was a father to a number of illegitimate children. Many of the mothers of these children are immortalised in the poetry and songs of the Scottish bard.
Although today the cottage is a huge tourist attraction, in the early 20th century it might have been lost forever. In 1914, during the suffragette era two women who were staunch supporters of the movement became so angered at the treatment of Scottish women prisoners that they tried to blow up the cottage as a sign of protest! They may have succeeded if the night watchman - Robert Wyllie - hadn't discovered them. In the cottage police discovered two canisters both containing about 4lbs of gunpowder.
Despite this near disaster, the cottage and museum went from strength to strength, greatly helped by the large number of fans of the poet, visiting locally and from overseas.
Having visited this cottage myself, I can vouch for the wonderful experience it gives and the strong sense of intimacy with the poet himself. The information and history shared by the museum is excellent and the whole area is like a time warp carrying you back to days long gone.
1. There are some documents surviving that have Shakespeare's own signature. The interesting thing about them is that he doesn't spell his name in the familiar form we know today. Examples of his signature spellings are: Shakspere, Shakspe, Shakespe and Shakespear.
2. Shakespearen scholars state that the author wrote at least twenty additional plays that have gone missing. Will they one day be discovered?
A Shakespeare Experience At Anne Hathaway's Cottage
Anne Hathaway was of course the wife of the great William Shakespeare. She was born in this lovely cottage that's now a beacon for history and Shakespeare lovers everywhere. It was in November 1572 when she married the young William Shakespeare who was to become one of the greatest poets and playwrights ever known.
There has been previous speculation - in particular by historian Frank Harris, 1909 - that William Shakespeare was forced to marry Anne when she became pregnant with their first child. As a result the marriage was an unhappy one. However, later historians argued against this. The main reason is that Anne was quite well off as well as having good social status, while Shakespeare's family had fallen on hard times. Therefore, Anne Hathaway was a very good catch from the Shakespeare family's point of view.
In addition, there is no evidence to support the theory that Shakespeare disliked his wife and on retirement, he lived with her in Stratford-Upon-Avon. It is true that for extended periods he lived in London, but for the times, it wasn't that uncommon for a man to work far away from home, leaving a wife and children in the family home.
It also surprises people to learn that Anne Hathaway was 26 years of age and William Shakespeare only 18 when they married. However, author Germaine Greer points out that since Anne's parents had died, leaving her orphaned, it was usual, under these circumstances, for a daughter of the house to stay at home to look after her younger brothers and sisters. As a result, women like Anne, frequently didn't marry until they were in their twenties.
Anne had three children by Shakespeare - a daughter Susanna, and twins, Hamnet and Judith. Sadly Hamnet died in 1596 during an outbreak of bubonic plague. Anne herself died on the 6th August 1623 aged 67 years.
Anne Hathaway's cottage is situated in the small village of Shottery which is within the parish of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Despite being called a 'cottage' it nevertheless has twelve rooms and the occupants of this Elizabethan dwelling would have been well off.
This beautiful cottage once had 90 acres of land that has long since disappeared, but the cottage itself is largely unchanged since Anne Hathaway's time. It's not difficult to imagine William Shakespeare and his future wife spending time together in this most romantic of settings.
Inside is a treasure trove of original features such as the fireplaces and even the ancient 'rush' bed that is believed to have been used by Anne's mother when giving birth to her. Other fascinating items include the 'second best bed' that Shakespeare left to Anne in his will.
It is often speculated that this was an insult to Anne, being left only second best. However, in those times the best bed was always kept for guests and therefore the second best bed was more than likely the marital bed they had shared during their married life. In addition, beds in the 17th century were extremely expensive items of furniture and often worth the same amount of money as a small house. Due to these facts most historians believe that Shakespeare did not slight his wife at all but did indeed leave her what was common practice in those times.
This cottage is a historical gem that transports the visitor back to those dramatic, exciting and dangerous days at the end of the Elizabethan period into the Jacobean.
Visiting historic cottages
I hope you've enjoyed this short tour of three of the many historic cottages found in the UK.
However, Britain is not the only country to have these gems of history. In the USA, Canada, Australia and many other countries, there are some wonderful historic cottages just waiting to be explored and to give you that intimate historic experience that only these unique locations can give.