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4th Jul, 2022

Trunk thought to belong to Anne Hathaway set to go under hammer

A CENTURIES-OLD trunk thought to have been owned by Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway, is set to go under the hammer.

The wooden, hinged trunk with decorative carving, is estimated by valuers at Hansons Auctioneers to fetch between £10,000 and £15,000.

An inscription on the lid reads ‘Edward Ounsworth 1697’, the same date on the chimney at Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

The piece – which appeared on the BBC Antiques Roadshow in 2016 – was given to the owner’s mother by the daughter of John Lowe, the estate manager at Ettington Park at the turn of the 19th century.

It is believed the Lowe family were neighbours to the Hathaway family, and John likely obtained the chest when the cottage was bought by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892.

A note inside the chest claims Edward Ounsworth was related to Shakespeare, although it has not been proven.

Hansons Auctioneers owner Charles Hanson said: “The moment you see this antique you grasp the richness of its history.

“It is a beautiful antique in its own right. Add to that its provenance and the romance of it being connected to Anne Hathaway, the wife of the great English poet, playwright and actor William Shakespeare, and you have a literary treasure chest.”

Anne spent her childhood in the 12-roomed farmhouse in the village of Shottery, near Stratford.

The cottage – now open to the public – dates back to 1473, where generations of Hathaways lived for centuries including Anne who was born there in 1556.

According to the record books, Anne Hathaway married Shakespeare in 1582 when he was 18 and she was 26. She outlived her husband by seven years.

Very little is known about her beyond a few references in legal documents, but her personality and relationship to Shakespeare have been the subject of much speculation by historians.

The chest will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire, on December 20.

Email arathbone@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk or call 01283 733988 to find out more.

Visit www.shakespeare.org.uk for more information on Shakespeare’s Stratford.

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