Friday, 26 July 2013

On Courting Seats and Benches

William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582, when he was 18 and she was 26.  Anne was the daughter of a farmer who lived outside Stratford, in the nearby village of Shottery.  Their first child, Susanna, was born six months later.  



The settle by the hearth in the original downstairs room might or might not have formed part of the chattels when Will and Anne met and wed.  It is in a rickety state because one of Anne's Victorian descendants claimed it was 'the courting settle' and sold bits of it to visitors.
And this has become known as the Courting Seat.  Hmmm.  
We know precious little about William and Anne, and that includes the most of the circumstances surrounding their wedding.  The age difference could be construed as an indication that a prolonged courtship was not necessarily a component of their liaison and that Anne got knocked up by a young lad intent on getting his end away rather than marriage. Certainly a failure to marry her would have constituted a scandal.  On the other hand, women like Anne whose mother had died often stayed home to look after younger siblings and married later than usual.  Plus, given that her family were, at that time, more prosperous than the Shakespeares and of good social standing, she would have been considered a catch.  So maybe marriage had been the future playwright's intention all along.  

If there has be a courting seat at all, let's stick with Titania's ... 










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