If you're looking for a day trip out of London, why not visit Hever Castle in Kent? Its rich and varied history spans over 700 years, but is probably most famous for being the childhood home of King Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
Originally built in the 13th century as a defensive castle, Hever was home to the Boleyn’s throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, was later passed on to another of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleves and from the mid 16th century onwards was home to numerous families.
By the early 20th century, Hever Castle had fallen in to disrepair, but was given a new lease of life by the American born businessman, politician and newspaper publisher, William Waldorf Astor, who invested millions in restoring Hever Castle and constructed the impressive lake and gardens, which can still be visited today.
Visitors hoping to experience Hever Castle as Anne Boleyn would have known it will be disappointed, as much of its interior was restored in 1905. Never-the-less, the building oozes history and many rooms and corridors which you can wander through maintain original features or aspects the Boleyn family would have known, including Anne’s own bedroom. Henry VIII’s bed chamber for instance still boasts 16th century panelling and a mid 15th century ceiling and the gatehouse still contains a 13th century toilet, which emptied directly in to the moat.
The building is festooned with intriguing artefacts and paintings, particularly the Long Gallery which extends across the entire width of the castle, displaying an exhibition of 18 original portraits hung in dynastic order of the Tudors.
Once you’ve finished touring the castle, you can, as we did, while away an afternoon exploring the 125 acres of gardens (which when we visited was resplendent in autumnal colours), take a boat on the 38-acre lake, get lost in the maze or promenade through the Italian garden. We were lucky enough to fit in a spot of archery, before it closed until February.
Hever Castle is located 30 miles from central London. For those without a car, trains run from London Victoria or London Bridge stations to Edenbridge Town station. After that it’s a 3-mile taxi ride to the castle. If you’re happy to undertake a 1-mile country stroll, then head to Hever Station (unmanned and no taxis) – a map of the walk is available on the Hever Castle website.
Please Note - In the photos below you'll notice a lot of cobwebs in the rooms. It was a spooky Halloween feature, rather than a lack of cleaning on behalf the people at Hever Castle.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.