Newest Review: ... near Edenbridge, Kent, England. You can drive your car to get Hever Castle. There are two parking areas, the bigger one of which is n... more
Hever Castle the home of two queens!
Hever Castle (Kent)
Member Name: garymarsh6
Hever Castle (Kent)
Date: 16/03/11, updated on 18/10/11 (250 review reads)
Advantages: A lovely introduction into the life of a Tudor.
Disadvantages: Refreshment prices are quite over the top I think.
Hever Castle can be found in the leafy lanes of Kent in the picturesque village of Hever just outside Edenbridge which is about 30 miles outside London. It is quite easy to get to by car turning off at Junction 5 or 6 of the M25 and follow the brown tourist signs to the castle. For sat navs just type TN8 7NG and it will bring you directly here. Anyone who has an interest in the Tudor age will be fascinated by this castle its history and beauty.
There has been some kind of building in the grounds of the castle since around about the early 12OO's but it has gained its popularity and association of being the home of Anne Boleyn where she was raised with her brother and older sister. She had been schooled in Holland and in France but returned to marry but that didn't happen so she ended up as a lady in waiting eventually falling for the infatuation of Henry VIII. Unfortunately as we all know she met an untimely end and lost her head.
The castle had been in the family since the 14OO's and her father was born there. There are no records to indicate whether she was born there or not as the parish records were not kept in those days. Their family name was originally Bullen which somehow changed to Boleyn. The castle came into the hands of Henry VIII and then became a home to Anne of Cleves after her divorce from Henry.
The castle is surrounded by a double moat one of which is water filled and is very picturesque. Behind the castle is a Faux Tudor village added on to the Castle by Lord Astor of Hever who was an American Philanthropist. He had it built to house his guests when they visited him. He was well known for his gifts to various charities and other deserving causes. He spent a fortune on restoring Hever Castle into its present state.
Entering the castle is by means of a drawbridge over the water moat where you enter into a small cobbled central courtyard through the port cullis. The cobbles are quite uneven and could be slippery for some. This is the only part of the original castle. There is much evidence of the Tudor style of building work with exposed oak beams and brickwork. Parts of the exterior walls are ivy clad which adds to the chic appearance of the castle. It is a very pretty castle.
There is a set route which takes you through the various rooms inside the castle and it is not suitable for people in wheelchairs or with marked mobility problems with the exception of the ground floor but even here there would be difficulties as there are no ramps to allow access. The house is built over three floors and each floor is reached by spiral staircases. Small children should be well supervised as parts of the stairways are quite narrow.
The great hall where there would have been great feasts is surrounded by wood paneling, ornaments, vases and tapestries. There is also a minstrel's gallery overlooking the hall where musicians would play whilst the diners tucked into their meal. The central feature in the hall is a large open log fire.
The castle has been extensively modernised and furnished and the collection of art work is amazing with many Tudor paintings and Tapestries adorning the walls. Over the gate house there is an exhibition of armour and Tudor torture instruments which are on display behind glass cabinets some of which look particularly gruesome. This area is the oldest part of the castle.
Throughout the house are costumed figures of Henry VIII and his wives. In the main drawing room there is a display cabinet showing the signed prayer book which belonged to Anne Boleyn. It is beautifully made with very colourful graphic artwork on each page. There is some beautiful antique furniture some of these things are priceless and certainly irreplaceable . Amongst many other things there is also much memorabilia belonging to the Astors including letters from Royalty, letters of thanks and invitations and all kinds of things.
One of the rooms contain a display of Henry VIII and all his wives which is quite interesting as there are printed articles about the marriage of Henry which give the story of the King and his wives and what happened to them including the following well known Mnemonic:-
Divorced - Catherine of Aragon
Beheaded - Anne Boleyn
Died - Jayne Seymour
Divorced - Anne of Cleves
Beheaded - Catherine Howard
Survived - Catherine Parr
Allow at least an hour and a half to two hours to tour the house. Anyone interested in Tudor history will find the castle quite fascinating for example the windows, brickwork the oak beams and paneling and the artifacts on display.
The grounds are very extensive and are absolutely magnificent with well stocked gardens and special areas including a yew tree maze which is over 100 years old, Italian gardens which lead down to the lake where you can admire its beauty from the extended loggia. To the side of the Italian garden there is also a rose garden. It is very pleasant to walk through the Walled Italian gardens where there are statues in niches along the walls of the garden. On the rose garden side of the Italian garden there is a covered walkway which is covered in vines and in the side of the walls there is a large man made water feature. Throughout the gardens there are Italian statues and water features.
At the end of the Italian garden you come to the superb lake which is over 38 acres of water where you can hire rowing boats to row on the lake. The lake took two years to build and 800 men dug it out. On the boundary of the castle grounds there is the river Eden which helps feed the lake.
There is also a water maze which is quite funny in that you have to try to get to the middle of the maze without getting wet as there are frequent bursts of water. Try it if you like but I can assure you that you will get wet! This is quite good fun on a very hot summer day for kids and adults alike.
The mature and well established grounds are beautiful to visit at all times of the year but they come into their own during the summer months when they are in full bloom. There are over 4000 roses in the rose garden and the colour is rich and vibrant and some of them are really scented. (Probably not a good idea to visit if you suffer from hay fever I might add). There are also woodland walks and picnic areas and it is now possible to walk around the lake which will take you an hour at a comfortable pace. For bird lovers there is plenty of birds to spot including Kingfishers etc.
There is a restaurant and a shop and also a shop selling plants however be warned the prices in the restaurant are very inflated and a lot of the stuff on sale in the shop is tat. There are some nice history books on sale but you would probably find these much cheaper elsewhere. there is also a refreshment kiosk at the end of the Italian garden.
There are also clean toilet facilities including baby changing facilities.
Parking can either be found in the village near the entrance or at busy periods in the extensive grounds. The good thing is that the parking is free. Be warned though at times there are coach loads of tourists at times and when the coaches are present the house can become quite packed and the queues are quite long just to get inside however they will only let small groups of people in at a time.
Prices of admission:
Adult £ 14 for the house and grounds or £11.40 for the grounds only.
Concessions £12 for the house and grounds or £10 for the grounds only.
Children £8 or £7.50 for the grounds only.
There is an audio tour available for £3 which is worth while having guiding you around the house and pointing out things that you might have well missed.
Corporate hire and weddings.
The castle can be hired out for corporate events and also you are able to get married there too. Guests can stay in the Faux village attached to the castle where there are 21 rooms available to stay in. These rooms are only rented out to people attending weddings or corporate events.
Usually the weddings take place in a suite in the village next to the castle and only in the winter months can you actually get married in the Great Hall itself but the reception is held in the village or the nearby restaurant. For 2011 it is possible to get married in the Italian gardens on the loggia overlooking the lake.
Kent TN8 7NG
Tel: 01732 865224
Opening times are varied throughout the year so you would be advised to check the opening times yourself before going. The castle itself does not open until at least 11:30 in the summer or 12 in the winter months but the grounds are open at least an hour before and close an hour after the castle has closed.
Check out the website at
Would I recommend a visit here?
Yes as it is deep in the rural countryside of Kent surrounded by peaceful countryside in beautiful surroundings plus it is quite a picturesque castle to visit with lots of history and interest for both adults and children. I would recommend you take a picnic with you though as the grounds are superb and you could quite easily spend the whole day here.
Throughout the year there are various events going on for example flower shows and festivals and also Jousting in the summer months. I would thoroughly recommend a visit here you won't be disappointed.
Summary: A wonderful day out for all the family.
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