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 - Childhood Home of Anne Boleyn
Hever Castle (Kent)
Member Name: miffy1
Hever Castle (Kent)
Advantages: A lovely day out with good facilities. Lots of history! Gorgeous gardens! Free parking.
Disadvantages: Castle not accessible for wheelchairs or pushchairs.
I love visiting historical houses and castles and try to go somewhere different each time we want to visit one. Not long ago we visited Hever Castle in Kent. We went during the early summer, which was lovely as all the gardens looked so beautiful. The castle does have something to offer all year round, though. I would certainly love to go back at a different time of year, and would like to see it at Christmastime!
Kent is described as being 'The Garden of England' and it isn't hard to see why. The countryside around the castle is just stunning! Rolling fields and lush trees!
The village of Hever is situated near Edenbridge in Kent and is easy to find as it is well sign-posted on all the main roads to it. We came via the M25 and found it without any trouble, just following the brown signs.
The castle dates back to 1270 and later became the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of king Henry VIII. It later passed to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
The moated castle is set in the most beautiful grounds, with fantastic formal gardens, two mazes and a lovely lake, surrounded by mature trees. It truly is a stunning setting!
Hever castle has been open to the public for many years and is very well thought out. The parking is good, with plenty of spaces and is free. You are able to look round the castle and follow a route that guides you to every room. There are lots of interesting artifacts to see and the whole place has a fantastic atmosphere. You can see Anne Bolyen's bedroom and where Henry VIII would have slept when he stayed there, as well as all the wonderful paintings that are on show. The Long Gallery (which is said to be haunted) has costumed figures of Henry VIII and all of his wives, which really brings the history of the place to life.
Outside, the grounds are beautiful, with lots of formal gardens, as well as meandering paths. The yew maze is great, and children will love that! I never did manage to find the middle though! There is also a water maze, which splashes you as you try and find you way round it, which is huge fun, though you do get a tad wet! Children will also enjoy the adventure playground that is provided.
We thought the eateries there were really good and had a lovely cooked meal in the Moat Restaurant. The food was excellent, with a good range of hot and cold dishes and staff friendly and helpful. There is also another eaterie further into to grounds called The Guthrie Pavillion, which also sells a good selection of hot and cold food that is very reasonably priced. It's probably more suited to families with younger children.
The lake is lovely and boats can be hired if you want to take to the water. We didn't on this occasion though, as we ran out of time, but plenty of people there did and seemed to be enjoying the experience. Boats cost £12 each to hire throughout the summer months.
The castle provided many different events throughout the year, including some spookiness at Halloween and A lovely Christmas special, with fairy lights and a grotto for the children. I would certainly love to see that!
I thought the cost of entry to the castle and gardens was very reasonable at £14 for adults and £8.00 for children aged 5 to 15. There were also consessions for senior citizens and disabled and carers too. Proof is needed for carers to get in for free. I'm a carer and I took a letter from the DWP with me proving that fact and that was accepted without question.
If you just want to look round the gardens without going inside the castle you can purchase a ticket for that at £11.00 for adults and £7.50 for children.
The only thing I would say about access to the castle is that anyone in a wheelchair would have problems accessing the castle itself as there are plenty of steps inside and no ramps into the courtyard. Pushchairs are also not allowed in the castle. The gardens are pretty much accessible though, so still worth a visit.
We really enjoyed our day at Hever and would certainly like to go back for another look.
Summary: A beautiful castle set in the most lovely gardens.