Thursday Doors

Anne Hathaway’s Thursday Doors

No, not that Anne Hathaway. This is the wife of William Shakespeare, not the film star. She was born in 1556 in  Shottery village, on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, into a wealthy family who owned sheep grazing on 90 acres of land. The original house, a two-roomed dwelling, was constructed a century before she was born. Over the years, it was extended by adding ten more rooms and called Newlands Farm.


Shakespeare courted Anne for several years before they married, he aged 18 and she 26 (already three months pregnant with Judith). Shakespeare moved to London to pursue his career as a playwright, but he returned to Stratford each year to his family. Anne bore twins, Hamnet and Susanna. Hamnet died of the plague as a child.

This is the back-door of Anne Hathway’s cottage, opening onto the kitchen garden. Shakespeare would have entered the front door when he came a-wooing Anne.

When Shakespeare died, he left his wife his “second-best bed and furniture” in his will. Although some have interpreted this as a snub, his best bed went to one of his daughters, probably Susanna. Beds were important bits of furniture.

One of the original beds in the cottage. Note the door on the right of the photo.

Here are two internal doors. People were shorter in those days.

A square wooden plate, or “trencher”, with a depression for salt at the top right. This is the origin of the term “a square meal”.
The last of Anne Hathaway’s ancestors who lived in the cottage and died before the First World War.


Thursday Doors

Thursday Doors in Leicester



Many of the older properties in the city centre which survived the cull have been turned into apartments. This hasn’t happened in the second photograph – yet. Faded glory and leaking drainpipes.

The Secular Society is a grade II listed building, constructed in 1881 and occupied by the society ever since (now sharing with the delightful Sweety Shakes and the ABC ballroom). The purpose of the society was “to provide the members with such means of recreation, amusement, instruction and social intercourse as have a tendency to elevate the taste and contribute to their intellectual improvement, without being dependent for these purposes on the public house.” This is because the society was banned from holding meetings in the local inn, the Three Crowns.

Leicester has a long tradition of self-reliance, independent thought and progressive ideas. In the words of Thomas Paine, “To do good is my religion”. Religion is broadly defined as “the simple creed of deed and duty, by which a man seeks his own welfare in his own way, with an honest and fair regard to the welfare of others” in contrast with theology.

“In the first place, its essential principle is that of self-reliance. It calls upon all the best elements of human nature to assert themselves and cooperate for the spread of truth, justice and peace. There is in this principle a stimulus which supernatural religion fails to supply. The one works from within; the other feebly appeals from without. Rationalism relies upon the moral judgment, while theology depends upon the commandments of God. In the second place, the Society’s platform is an open one. Heretic and believer, mystic and social reformer, the scholar and the shrewd but unlettered working man, are all alike welcome to set forth their opinion of our teaching. In this clash of though with thought the spirit of liberty delights. Out of this free and manly interchange of ideas the society will gain suggestions for its own moral and intellectual improvement.” (FJ Gould)

I like the orange busts on the capitals of five pillars (the photograph only shows four – Socrates, Jesus, Voltaire and Paine, missing out Owen). The grey stone is from Darley Dale and the red bricks were made locally in Coalville. The architect, WL Sugden, in the style of the Flemish Renaissance.


Thursday Doors

Thursday Doors – Graffiti

Leicester has an annual graffiti festival each Whitsuntide called “Bring the Paint”. You can read all about the festival on this link. I was in Kenya for the 2018 festival but went on a walking tour of the main sites last month. Here are some of the doors and window frames which caught my eye.


I really like this Indian lady dressed in shalwar kameez, with hightops and a flowery skateboard, but carrying a traditional pot. Interesting placement of the padlock.


This is the Sound House live music venue in the Cultural Quarter of the city. The blue and white design looks like a repeating wave motif from Hokusai. It refers to sound waves, of course. There are more murals around the back in the carpark.

IMG_4769 Makers Yard is a location for artists and designers to make stuff. The mesh door on the right conceals another great graffiti mural.



These are roller doors for small industrial units. Proprietors are often happy to provide a canvas (their dull doors) for the artists. They take from 2-6 hours to do.


The white door at the top of the fire escape looks like it might be trompe l’oeil.

The remaining photographs are of door-like window frames in St James’ Street.


Kenya Thursday Doors

Thursday Doors – garden gate


And what about this strange wall, topped with bottles the “wrong” way up, with a washing line and a blue door in the background?


And finally, there is a door by this flimsy kiosk, somewhere. And why is there so much sawdust scattered around? To dry up the mud?