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I have lived in the United Kingdom for 5 years. During this time I have travelled to a few places around England and have seen a few castles. Hever Castle was one of them.
Brief information about Hever Castle:
Hever Castle is an important historic castle on the English landscape. Different from many traditional castles, Hever Castle has no keep. Historically the castle was the home of different owners' family. Back to 1270 it was built as a country house. From 1462 to 1539 it was the property of Boleyn family. Anne Boleyn, the intriguing second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, spent her early youth there and became the most famous resident of the house. After her death the castle became into the possession of King Henry's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. Now it's a tourist attraction and open to the public.
Hever Castle is located in the village of Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent, England. You can drive your car to get Hever Castle. There are two parking areas, the bigger one of which is nearby the main entrance.
What to see at Hever Castle:
As a tourist attraction Hever Castle has an impressive building which has links to Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. There is a wooden bridge over the moat. Entering the house and following the guide signs you can see a drawing room, which has a tudor decoration and furniture. However most of them were not original. In the living room you can see the portraits, furniture and tapestries. At the second floor there was a room, which was said to be the bedroom of Anne Boleyn. It's a very small room. To be honest I was surprised to see she stayed in a such small room as the daugher of the house owner. Next her bedroom you can see some displays, two of which were her prayer boos, both signed and inscribed by Anne Boleyn. You can also see the original letters between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. From these letters I would like to belive there was a real love between them, not only for the interests of politics. Continuously walking I visited the Long Galley in which you can see the Henry VIII and his six wives portraits. Just at this moment I knew the relationship between Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth First. ( Shame on me). In the thirteenth century gatehouse there was a collection of historic swords, armour, instruments of execution, torture and discipline. You can also see the history of the house at the next room, particularly about the last owner William Waldorf Astor. There were pictures of some famous visitors including the queen Elizabeth Second and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. My last see at the house was the fashion exhibition of Tudor ages. You can see the dress Anne Boleyn had when she married to Henry VIII.
Hever Castle Garden is a beautifully designed garden.It was laid out between 1904 and 1908 by Joseph Cheal & Son. To me the most magnificent areas of the gardens was the Italian Garden, which was designed to display William Waldorf Astor's collection of Italian sculpture. I was very impressed with the water features around the gardens too. Last but not least walking along Anne Boleyn's Walk amid enjoying the views was very enjoyable too.
Opening times and prices:
Hever Castle is open daily between 1 April and 31 October. The garden is open from 10:30am to 6pm and the Castle is open from 12 noon to 6pm. Currently the admissions are £15 for adult and £8.50 for child.
Hever Castle is a beautiful and impressive Tudor building, which has a strong connection of Anne Bolyen and Henry VIII. It's a great place for a day out.
Nearby Hever Castle you can also visit Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill and Knole, the Childhood Home of Vita Sackville-West.
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.
As a massive fan of Tudor History, I was delighted to finally get to visit Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, and her sister Mary, the kings mistress. My boyfriend, his parents, my daughter and I were all very much looking forward to our trip.
We travelled to the castle from Eastbourne, heading up through Tonbridge Wells towards Edenbridge. The castle wasn't particularly well signposted from the direction we came in, though I've seen signs off the M25 from London. The entrance to the castle is up a narrow road at the side of a church, leading you onto a large field used for car parking. On the day we came, the field was staffed by stewards, who helpfully directed us to free spaces. Parking is free, and the small wooden huts where you pay your entrance into the castle are just a minute or twos walk away.
Admission prices are as follows :
Individual Rates Castle & Gardens Gardens Only
Adult £14.00 £11.50
Senior Citizen £12.00 £10.00
Child (5-15) £8.00 £7.50
Family Ticket £36.00 £30.50
(2 adults/2 children or 1 adult/3 children), not applicable to groups.
Opening times in the main season, April to October are as below :
Gardens open: 10:30am
Castle open: 12 noon
Last admission: 5:00pm
Final exit: 6:00pm
These times do vary throughout the year, and on occasion the castle is closed for private functions, so it is worth checking out the website for accurate information before your visit. The website also lists any special events held at the castle - we were lucky enough to attend when there was a joust, which was included in the admission price .
I purchased a combined ticket for both the castle and grounds. It is worth noting at this point that the castle itself is not particularly wheelchair friendly, as there are a lot of stairs. Pushchairs are also not allowed within the castle itself, so this may influence your decision on which ticket to buy.
The castle itself is full of contrasts . Stepping through the dramatic looking stone keep, ringed by two moats, you enter a small courtyard. The interior walls of the courtyard are a complete contrast to the ones on the outside, being Tudor beamed, with plenty of leaded windows. Scattered around the courtyard are a few potted plants, and some old wooden seating. There was a short queue here to enter the castle itself, around ten minutes or so.
Inside, the contrasts continue - some rooms are still decorated in Tudor fashion, although much of this is not original, but instead an expensive and faithful restoration by William Waldorf Astor, who purchased the castle in a state of great disrepair, and restored it as a family home . He was very strict on the workers, insisting they use only tools and materials available to Tudor craftsmen, and also spent a lot of time seeking out authentic furnishings from the Tudor period.
However, one can't live in a museum, and other rooms are decorated in a much more comfortable and liveable 1920s style, although there is still plenty of luxury. There were plenty of things in the castle I found incredibly interesting - portraits of Henry VIII and his family, for example, gave a real feel for the people who lived in and visited the home, and Anne Boleyns illuminated 'Books of Hours' , one of which she wrote in herself (that's where I got my title!), are simply stunning to look at. You could spend hours wondering around in here , there is so much to see, and the optional audio tour we purchased (£2 per person, available in English, German, and French) was excellent for providing additional information about various objects.
I felt like I learned a lot about the objects inside the castle - for example, there was a pair of postilions boots in the entrance hall, and I had never realised that the pair was for two men, each wearing one boot to stop his leg becoming injured if trapped between two horses when pulling a coach . I also learned that Henry VIII feared so much for his safety that whenever he travelled, he has his own personal locks installed, one of which can be seen in the Dining Hall.
However, although I learned a lot about the objects, and about William Astor, I actually didn't feel I learned much about Anne Boleyn herself - I would have liked to have known more about her early days, and how she spent her time as a child,and to perhaps have seen a layout of how the grounds would have looked during that time, as the current grounds were laid out in 1904.
Some parts of the castle were roped off displays, where in others you could walk around and get a much closer look. Sadly, photography and filming are not permitted within the castle itself, and you are not able to touch any of the objects . I also felt the castle rather lacked in the kind of interactive exhibits that children enjoy - there were no buttons you could press to have long paragraphs of text read out to you, no costumes for children to try on, no medieval crafts for children to have a try at. My daughter sadly grew rather bored with the castle itself, though I found it fascinating .
Another small personal gripe I had with the castle itself was the profusion of flowers everywhere . Specifically Lilies. I have quite bad hayfever, and Lilies are the worst for setting me off . Within a few minutes of entering the castle, I began to feel quite unwell, and I do think that this stopped me spending as much time in the castle proper as I would have liked, as I needed to get some air.
Luckily, the grounds are stunning - and there is a fair bit for children to do in the grounds. The water maze in particular was brilliant - a sort of tower, surrounded by pathways over a pond. If you stood on the wrong bit of path, the tile would dip slightly, and a huge gush of water would come up and soak you.
There is a huge lake on the grounds, and you are able to take a boat out onto the lake, although we passed on this as my daughter is a bit of a wimp around boats . The lake was populated by ducks, swans, and geese, and at the time of our visit, some of the swans were a little agressive as they were protecting the cutest, fluffiest cygnets I have ever seen.
I don't know much about flowers, but I do know that the gardens were a real riot of colour, and there was a lovely shaded grotto walkway along one side . Many or the gardens had statues and wall plaques, some of which are very old and valuable, and date from roman times . There is a small yew maze in the garden which is fun to have a look round, and many wide lawned areas where you can sit and have a picnic.
The joust we attended was lots of fun - a fellow dressed up as Henry VIII started it off, shouting out it a large booming voice as mounted riders came up to the lists . It was very engaging for the children, with plenty of chances for them to shout out and cheer, and was realistic - shattered lancers, sore bums, and a slightly tipsy rider being some of the scenes we saw.
I could say so much more about the castle and the gardens - There are two cafes (though I didn't eat in either) and a couple of gift shops, one of which sells jams produced from fruits grown at Hever. There are various walks marked out on site that help take in the sites, and a children's adventure playground and tower maze .
I feel it is a fabulous attraction, although I think entrance is expensive and it could use some interactive exhibits to interest children. I also think it is a real shame you are not able to use a video camera within the castle - I can understand that flash photography might in some way damage objects, particularly the many original portraits, but I think it would have been nice if I could have videotaped my tour.
If I could, I would rate separately for the castle and gardens . The gardens would get the full five stars , as they have something for everyone. but the castle would get a mere three, as I do feel that despite being a very impressive and beautifully maintained historic building, it could do with being a bit more child friendly exhibit wise, and could do without the flowers making me ill!
Overall, I award Hever four stars . I think it is a wonderful place to visit, and certainly one to devote a full day to, as there is so much to see an do . Recommended!
I had wanted to visit Hever Castle for some time, as it is the family home of Anne Boleyn, and I am a bit of a Tudor Geek. The best way to get there is to drive, the Castle is in Kent so for us that meant the M25, where it can be found between junctions 5 and 6. Soon after leaving the motorway however, the A roads become B roads and the last part of the journey is through country lanes, just keep following the brown Tourist signs. If you do not have access to a car you can get a taxi from Edenbridge station which is about three miles away.
You pay as you drive into the grounds, the adult price was £13 for the castle and gardens (£10.50 for the gardens only) with discounts for Senior Citizens and families. Children were £7 including the castle. Parking is on grass so keep that in mind when considering footwear and weather, fortunately it was sunny when we visited. Depending on where you parked, it is only a short walk down to the main part of the castle and gardens. We parked near the Moat Restaurant and Gift Shop, and there were people picnicking outside. We visited last year with Tesco Clubcard Days Out vouchers.
It is worth noting that you cannot picnic within the 'proper' gardens, so if you are bringing a picnic you need to sit by the Moat Restaurant. We popped into the Moat Restaurant (we weren't organised enough to plan a picnic) - it's not a cheap place to eat but we were impressed with the quality of our meals. All main dishes are then served with new potatoes and a seasonal vegetable selection in an individual dish. It was well-presented, fresh and cooked properly. The drinks selection included fair trade teas and coffees; old-fashioned colas etc were part of the soft drink offering. They also did desserts and cakes, although we just shared a mini bar of luxury chocolate. Overall our lunch was over £20 including drinks but it was tasty and enjoyable and I cannot complain about the quality. The staff cleared and wiped down the tables regularly, so although it was a busy time we managed to get a clean table and our plates were cleared promptly.
Later in the afternoon we stopped at the Guthrie Pavilion near the lake for a sit down and a cold drink and shared one of their home-made cakes. If you are a chocolate fiend then you will enjoy the Chocolate Brownie we had, and there was a good selection to choose from. Service here was quite slow, and tables were not always clear. I believe that you can get lunches here, and part of it is waiter service.
We had to queue 40 minutes to get into the Castle. It doesn't look that big from the outside but there is lot to see inside and, in my opinion, is worth doing. There is an audio tour available for an extra charge. We enjoyed wandering around the rooms at our own pace, and in spite of the number of people, we didn't find it too crowded for the most part. The signs and historical information is clear and concise.
The first part of the castle dates from the thirteenth century, but the main part was done when the Bullen (Boleyn) family arrived in the early sixteenth century.The Astor family later maintained and restored it. It has been open to the public since the 1980s. Inside there is an extensive collection of Tudor portraits of all of the key players and is considered the finest collection after the National Portrait Gallery. Also the Pampered Prince Exhibition, which looked at Henry VIII's childhood which was informative. As well as these exhibitions there are opportunities to learn about the history of the house and its famous residents, which included Henry's 4th wife Anne of Cleves. There are short biographies on each of his wives to read. The Castle also contains two of Anne Boleyn's Book of Hours (personal prayer books) which are highly decorated. They are in cabinets, but some transcripts are available to read. One exhibition that was popular with younger visitors was the one depicting armour, swords and assorted instruments of torture. There is also an exhibition on the Astor family who bought and restored the Castle in 1903 (to be honest, we weren't really interested in them and skipped thois part). Some of the rooms you see are decorated as the Astor's had them, rather then how they would have been in Tudor times. You do get to see Anne Boleyn's bedroom and efforts have been made to keep that part authentic. All in all I think we were in the Castle about an hour and a quarter so this aspect represents good value for money and is worth taking the time to do.
It is worth visiting the Yew maze, which was created by William Astor in 1906 and, whilst not a large maze, it was quite entertaining. However, paths are narrow and made of earth, so can get muddy, making it impossible for wheelchairs or pushchairs but also difficult for others with limited mobility. There is also a water maze but that is more for kids, they seem to love leaping in and out of the water sprays. If you are going with kids, then pack a change of clothes!
There are a number of walks you can do, but due to time constraints we didn't attempt one. The lake walk which takes you all around the lake should take an hour however. You can hire boats on the lake for the rather pricey rate of £10 per half hour. My boyfriend wanted to impress me with his rowing prowess so off we set. He then recalled that he had only rowed once and actually wasn't that good. There is a number to call painted in the boats if you get into difficulty and you get a laminated map so you know what you are looking at should you make it more than 50 yards from the boathouse before going round in circles. The boats can be hired at weekends and during school holidays in the summer months.
There are various gardens to view and the Italian gardens and Walled Rose Garden were my favourites. You can smell the Rose Garden as you enter it, it is lovely. Obviously this experience would vary depending on the season and the weather. The gardens are well designed and well cared for. There are also a number of topiary animal figures around the Castle itself.
OTHER FACILITIES AND ATTRACTIONS
The only toilets that I saw were by the Guthrie Pavilion which is quite a walk from the entrance. As far as the Ladies' facilities were concerned, there were plenty of adequately stocked and clean cubicles, so no queuing. However there was only one hand dryer, whilst it was a high speed Dyson Air-blade one, it still caused a bottle neck.
There are two Gift Shops that I saw, one by the Moat entrance that offered a range of children's toys, as well as quality adult gifts, Not all are Castle related, but 'Past Times' type scarf and tie clip gifts. There is a smaller shop by the Guthrie Pavilion offering books and gardening gifts as well as plant cuttings.
Most of the gardens are disabled friendly, although some of the paths are gravel. The Castle can only be accessed downstairs by wheelchairs. However the toilets, restaurants, shops and other attractions are wheelchair friendly.
There is also a small miniature house exhibition (by the Moat Restaurant - accessed through the Gift Shop), with some scale model houses through history. The houses are in glass cases and as you lean forward to look inside them (part is 'cut-away' so you can see the rooms inside) you WILL bang your head on the glass. EVERYONE did this when I visited, usually more than once. However, they are very well done and anyone with an interest in historical homes will find something of interest in here. It is only small and you will only need 10-15 minutes to view.
There is also the opportunity to do archery and watch various demonstrations throughout the year, but often seasonal and weather dependant.
We had a lovely day here, staying six hours in total, and we definitely could have stayed longer if we had managed to get here earlier. I think it offers good value for money due to the amount of things to do. It helped that the weather was nice to enable us to explore the gardens, and I think this needs to be a consideration when planning a visit. There are lots of activities to enjoy with children and many things that would appeal to adults as well. There seemed to be plenty of staff and the whole thing seemed well organised and efficiently run, if I was to find one quibble it was that I only located one set of toilets.
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.
Hever Castle is a 13th century double-moated castle, which is most famous for being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII's second wife.
It lies in picturesque Kent countryside, just 30 miles from Central London, half an hour from Gatwick and an hour from Heathrow. More detailed directions by road, train and sea can be found on their website, www.hevercastle.co.uk.
Neither the gardens nor the castle are open every day, as in March, November and December they are only open Wednesdays to Sundays. Between April and October inclusive they are open daily, but the castle and gardens are closed from the 3rd January to the 28th February. Although this may be disappointing for some as Winter would be a beautiful time of year to visit, being able to enjoy the castle and its gardens in the Summer sunshine (what little we have of it in England!) makes for a great day out.
Prices for entry to the castle and gardens are very reasonable, as Adult tickets are £13, Senior Citizens pay £11, Children aged 5-15 have to pay £7 and Family Tickets are £33. If you are disabled or need a carer, carers are admitted for free. If you wish to just visit the gardens, you still have to pay, and I think the prices for entry to just the gardens are quite steep. Adults pay £10.50, Senior Citizens pay £9, Children pay £6.50 and a Family Ticket costs £27.50. So as you can see, you may as well pay a couple of pounds more and be able to look around the castle as well.
If you're interested, Annual Passes are available, which I think is a great idea if you live nearby and want to regularly take your children for a day out and a picnic, or even if you just like strolling in beautiful scenery! Group rates are also available on request, for groups with a minimum of 15 visitors.
Once you've crossed the moat (don't lean too hard on the railings edging the bridge, they're not very stable!) you enter the castle through the courtyard. If you use a wheelchair but can walk, there is space to leave your wheelchair in the courtyard, as well as space for prams and pushchairs. If you use a wheelchair and are unable to walk without it, or are unable to climb stairs, you may only be able to look around the first two floors of the castle. Any more than that and you will begin to encounter some rather narrow, steep stone staircases, although the maximum number of steps in any one is around 15. But more of that later...
As you enter the castle, audio guides are available in English, French and German, but you have to pay £2.75 each to use them! In my experience audio guides can be quite interesting, yet a bit boring as well, but I wouldn't say that they're worth paying for. Throughout the castle, most of the interesting items and objects are labelled, and most rooms have a sign with a small amount of text explaining what the room was and a bit of background information. For me, these gave just enough of an explanation that an audio guide would have been unnecessary - and therefore a waste of money. Regarding the audio guides, what I did notice was that each of the information points had a small picture with a clearly displayed number, making it easy for anyone using an audio guide to know what to press. These pictures and numbers were very small and unobtrusive, yet were placed in sensible places. In other words, if you were looking for them they'd be so easy to notice, but if you'd decided to give the audio guide a miss, you probably wouldn't notice these information points.
However, if you want to give yourself your own tour (following the designated route, of course) and you have purchased a guide book, turning to page 6 will give you the first room of the tour, and the book will take you through the rooms in the order that you visit them.
Now, you may have noticed that I mentioned that you have to follow a designated route. Some people may find this off-putting as it can be interesting to wander around historical venues of your own accord, but the layout of the Hever Castle route didn't feel too restrictive at all. It was a well thought-out layout and felt like a natural direction to meander through all the rooms. I have to say, though, a couple of times you needed to do a bit of double-backing down corridors and the like, but often the signs to let you know this were a bit inconspicuous and people quite often block the signs, so you may end up missing a room or two. Not ideal as some of these rooms are interesting, but there's plenty of other things to see you probably won't feel too let down if you miss them by mistake.
I won't go through every room you visit as you'll see for yourself when you visit the castle and I don't want to ruin any surprises, but I will point out a few things I noticed.
It's worth looking closely at all the furniture and wood panelling in all the rooms, as some of it is exquisitely made. The fine work on the tapestries in the dining room, the carving around Henry VIII's bed, and the ornate inlay on the walls of the drawing room and the tables in the morning room will all have you reeling at the beauty of them and the talent of their creators.
Anne Boleyn's bedroom was surprisingly small, and if I'm honest a little disappointing. On your tour you will walk through the bedroom, and due to the size of the room there is no room for both the visitors and the bed. Consequently, the headboard is the only part of her bed which is still in the room. I would have preferred it if they had made a bit more of a display with her room. After all, it was her childhood home, so to see the type of room she would have slept in would have been quite interesting. Even if it meant making it into one of those rooms where you can't actually enter it but just admire from the doorway, I think that would have been ideal.
On my visit to the castle, in the Long Gallery they had a 'Pampered Prince Exhibition', which explained Henry VIII's relationship with his mother, along with some details about his childhood. There was also some information about each of his six wives. Although this was very interesting, there was a lot of reading to do, and at this late stage of the tour was a little heavy-going. Furthermore, we went to Hever Castle to find out about Anne Boleyn and her upbringing as this was her childhood home, so I felt that this exhibition was a bit unnecessary and the money and space could have been better spent telling us more about Anne Boleyn herself.
One of the last sections of the castle which you will enter is the Aston Wing. The Aston family owned the castle for many years and were responsible for all of the extensions and buildings behind the castle, which can be hired out, used for corporate events and weddings, and private dwellings. There were only a few rooms making up this part of the tour, and they were all full of items, photos and information about the Aston family. It is a nice idea, to find out more about some of the other owners of the castle, but only if they were people we had actually heard of, or other members of the royal family. As it was, the Aston Wing seemed like a bit of an afterthought which was just added to the tour of the castle in order to fill up a bit of time and space. It may have been interesting for some, but it wasn't for me.
Housed in the 13th Century gatehouse is the Regimental Museum of the Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry (which I will refer to as the RMKSY), and on the floor below you will find an 'Armour, Instruments of Execution, Discipline and Torture' exhibition. I felt similarly about the RMKSY as I did about the Pampered Prince exhibition, in that it was unrelated to the most interesting aspect of the castle and the space could have been used for something else. The display of medals they had was quite impressive, but that was the most interesting part of the museum. Luckily it only took up one room. On the other hand, the torture exhibition was fascinating. To learn about how the Tudors tortured criminals and outspoken women was really interesting, and it's impossible to look at some of the torture instruments without wincing at what they would have felt like! This was a fun, engaging way to finish the tour of the castle.
This 13th Century gatehouse is accessed by a narrow spiral stone staircase, with steps which have different tread depths. If you have mobility problems this staircase may prove difficult to climb, and I'm not sure if the castle provides access for people who can't ascend or descend these stairs. It's worth ringing them up beforehand to find out - we did this for a different reason and the staff were very helpful and understanding - as it would be a pity to miss out this last part of the tour. However, if it is unavoidable, at least you will not be missing out on anything directly linked to Anne Boleyn!
We visited on a rare sunny day, and it happened to be the last day of most people's school holidays. As a result, it was very busy and as some of the rooms and corridors are quite small, it was often quite busy and crowded. I'd advise that you go on a day which is less likely to be busy - maybe during term-time if you can, or on a bleaker looking day - as your whole visiting experience will probably be a lot more pleasant. Even if it is busy, you will still be able to see everything that you want to, although it may require a lot of shuffling and dodging other visitors, and it may take you a bit longer to look around the castle as a whole.
All in all it took us about an hour and a half to look around the entire castle. This seemed like just the right length of time, as any more may have been a bit boring and tiring, yet any less and we would have felt a bit cheated. As it was, I think we got our money's worth.
As a whole, the castle was much smaller than I was expecting - both from the outside and the inside. It was very interesting and provides a real insight into an intriguing woman who most of us know very little about. I did, however, feel that a little too much time and focus was on Henry VIII and the rest of his six wives. Of course, they had to be mentioned as they play an important part in history, but this was Anne Boleyn's childhood home and I felt that more attention should be paid to her. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth paying those extra couple of pounds to be able to look around the castle as well as the gardens, as you will get your money's worth.
The gardens are absolutely beautiful. I understand that there are 30 acres of landscaped gardens, plus a 38 acre lake! You can spend hours in the gardens alone, just walking, taking in the views, sunbathing, having a picnic or playing with your children and dogs.
We must have spent 2 or 3 hours in the gardens, yet didn't even see half of them! Some of the beautiful features they have include the Half Moon Pond, the Walled Rose Gardens and the Boating Lake. The Boating Lake is stunning, if not a little windy and chilly! You can hire a traditionally built rowing boat, which I think can seat 6 people, although I'm not entirely sure. This boat hire costs £10 per hour, which I think is a fair charge as it's a beautiful and enjoyable way to spend an hour of your day.
There is a Lake Walk, which will take you all the way around the lake, passing features such as a waterfall and the Deer Pond. This walk should take you approximately 1 hour, although obviously depends on how quickly or slowly you amble your way around. We didn't go on this walk, but from what I saw of the rest of the gardens, the Lake Walk is probably magnificent.
The gardens also include two mazes: the Water Maze and the Yew Maze. Both seemed to be a popular choice with the children and adults alike, although we didn't try them out for ourselves. I prefer to know where I'm going and how long it will take me! Both of the mazes are only open April to October, weather permitting, so you won't be able to try them out if you visit during Winter.
The Yew Maze is a traditional hedge-style maze, which has a quarter of a mile of pathways within it. It is suitable for wheelchairs so can be enjoyed by anyone. The Water Maze, on the other hand, is made up of a series of stepping stones poised above water, so I'm not sure of how easy it would be for wheelchairs to try it out. Be warned, when you step on some of the stepping stones they tilt, sending out a jet of water to get you all wet. The aim is to keep dry, but it's very difficult, so if you don't fancy risking getting a soaking it may be worth giving the Water Maze a miss!
---Places To Eat---
Aside from taking your own picnic, there are three places to eat within the castle grounds. The Moat Restaurant is next to the shop and the disabled parking area; the Pavilion Restaurant and the Pavilion Café are behind the Walled Rose Gardens and just down from the Boating Lake.
The Moat Restaurant offers a selection of fresh sandwiches, crisps, and hot meals, as well as some hot, cold and alcoholic drinks. We tried the sandwiches and drinks: the sandwiches were well made and tasty. We did not visit the Pavilion Restaurant, but the Pavilion Café sells the same selection of drinks, crisps and sandwiches, as well as some huge, mouth-watering, castle-baked cakes and muffins. Being castle-baked, these were very moist and fresh, and the slices of cake (often triple layered cakes!) were big enough to share between a family!
The one big downside to the food sold in these Restaurants and Cafés is the price. At the Moat Restaurant we had 3 sandwiches, 2 bottled drinks and 1 coffee...all of which came to over £19. All of the sandwiches which we saw were £4 each, and although they were fresh and tasty, they were nothing special. There were no exciting flavours, and just tasted like something I could make at home. The simply served them with a pile of rocket on the side which was difficult to eat, and as a result we all felt that £4 was very much on the expensive side for these sandwiches. In my opinion, you'd be better off taking your own lunch, as it'd be a lot cheaper and you could make yourself any flavour you like!
Each of the Restaurants and Cafés has spaces to eat both inside and outside. Although the inside spaces looked nice, clean and well-lit, it was a sunny day so we chose to sit outside instead. Big mistake. The wasps are a huge problem around the restaurants at Hever Castle, and as long as you're sitting outside, you are guaranteed to be surrounded by two, three, even more as you try and eat your food. They are such a nuisance and it's clearly a problem that the staff have realised, as if you look around there are many wasp traps all hanging up. They are all full, but for each of those trapped wasps, there are many more flying about.
I have 3 suggestions for you to combat this. Firstly, sit inside instead. You may miss out on a bit of sunshine, but at least you can eat in peace. If you're allergic to wasps, this may seem like a very appealing option. Secondly, if you have a hot drink the sugar comes in the form of cubes. Place one of these on the other end of your outdoor table, or just underneath on the floor, and all the wasps will flock to it, choosing to eat that rather than have a bite of your food, leaving you to eat in peace. Lastly, and probably my biggest recommendation, would be to take your own food. Not only would you save money, as I have mentioned before, but you could sit anywhere in the beautiful gardens and eat it, well away from the pesky wasps. They tend to hang around near the restaurants as they know that that's where the food is, so take your food somewhere else and you should be safe from them.
Near the Pavilion Café and Restaurant there is a Potting Shed and Shop. There are many beautiful plants available for you to buy, all of which have been grown in the castle gardens. You can take your very own piece of history home with you! We didn't actually enter this shop, we just saw it from the outside, so I can't comment on what else it sells - if anything.
The Moat Shop, next to the Moat Restaurant, also has a few plants for sale, but I gather that it sells more in the way of souvenirs than the other shop. Just more than half the shop was taken up with items for sale which are totally unrelated to Hever Castle, its owners, the Tudors or history. There was a lot of glassware and jewellery on sale, where I would have preferred to browse through historically related items. After all, it is a historical attraction! They did have a few Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII related items, postcards and books, though, which were all reasonably priced.
Situated right next door, there is also a Children's Shop which you can visit - should you be able to get through the door and past the crowds. This does sell some Hever Castle souvenirs, as well as some other toys and books, the same kind that you find at any gift shop. Either way, there'll definitely be something in there for your little ones. :)
There's not really a lot of other things I can talk about (yes, I hear your sighs of relief that we're nearly at the end), except that throughout the year they have loads of different entertainment and events. Throughout July and August they had jousting tournaments, which I'm sure they'll put on again sometime soon, and they have organised lots of special Christmas events. I've seen some of their events a few years ago, and they really are quite special. Apart from being interesting and teaching you a thing or two, they're lots of fun for the whole family. There are things going on all year round, so it's worth checking on their website and co-ordinating your visit with some of these other special activities.
So we've made it to the end (finally!) and it's time for me to sum up my thoughts on the Hever Castle experience as a whole.
Hever Castle is definitely a place to visit, whether it's because you want to soak up a bit of culture and history, to have a stroll through the gardens, or to just have a great day out.
It might sound like a cliché, but there really is something for everyone, all through the year whilst the castle is open. Children and adults alike will love to explore the gardens and the mazes, and the castle itself will prove fascinating and interesting for people of all ages. It is most certainly worth going to visit the castle as well, rather than just the gardens.
All in all we had a brilliant day out, and would definitely go and visit Hever Castle again. It's probably a bit small to visit more often than every couple of years, but if I lived a bit closer I would certainly go for days out in the gardens more regularly. I would give it 4 and a half stars if I could, but due to the high prices for the food and the few rooms in the castle which I found less interesting, I can't give it a perfect 5 stars so have to knock 1 off.
Both thank you and well done for reading 'til the end, and I hope you enjoy your visit to Hever Castle if you are lucky enough to visit it!
---More details on all aspects of your visit can be found at www.hevercastle.co.uk, or by phoning +44 (0)1732 865224---
This is a great place to visit in the Heart of Kent. It was first built in the year1300 and the oldest part of the castle is the Gatehouse and the Drawer Bridge which is walled. There is a moat which surrounds the castle.
When you approach the castle you do firstly see this amazing Bridge and Drawer bridge which you walk over first of all you will then see the Gatehouse and the house which was built in 1500 or there about. You can then imagine people living there and any form of trouble they would be able to pull up the Drawer Bridge for safety.
Then once you have walked over the Drwerbridge you then are in the Inner Courtyard and you can see the 13th Century and 15th Century walls of the castle. You then find yourself in the Entrance Hall this has timbers which we are told dated back to the 15th century. There you also be able to see the actual original door opposite the entrance which is now used today. Inside the entrance hall there is a chair which is made from walnut and it is a grand piece of furniture to see and certainly suits the room.
Then there is the Inner Hall, this was the Great Kitchen in the Tudor Period there was also a well underneath the floor which was filled in by the Astor family in the early 1900s... Also in the North East part of the room in the corner there is a fine fire place which is in walnut.
Drawing Room has the most amazing carpet which is a Khotan Carpet
There is also a Morning Room and what you see is 17th Century furniture.
Now you then come to a spiral stone staircase which is unusual as it is called 'defensive Staircase' this when the staircase spirals up in an anti-clockwise direction.
Anne Boleyn's Bedroom is a small room and there is a half-domed ceiling
The Bullen family in the 1500's built this Tudor dwelling and it was very fine indeed and comfortable.
The first member of the Bullen Family who resided at Hever Castle was Geoffrey Bullen and his family came from Norfolk. He was the Lord Mayor of London in 1459 he was knighted and became wealthy which allowed him to purchase Blickling Hall which is in Norfolk and Hever Castle..
His grandson Thomas was born in 1477 and when Thomas owned the Hever it was bought into the sights of many influential people over the world. Thomas married Elizabeth Howard who was daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. They had many children but they did not survive past infancy except George, Mary and Anne.
Anne Boleyn who a few years later married Henry VIII became the second wife who then sadly got beheaded.
Then in 1903 an American bought the castle William Waldorf Astor and spent a lot of money restoring the castle to what it is today. Also there was a village built and the lake and gardens were also created.
In 1981 the Astors decided to sell Hever Castle and the estate which included over 3,500 acres and so in the year 1983 Broadland Properties Ltd they bought Hever Castle .
Most of what you see as you walk around is what Lord Astor had collected. There is an amazing tapestry of Henry viii which you will be able to see in the Dining Hall above the fireplace. This was produced by Flemish Weavers which were in England at the time. It also carries the Hampton Court Label as well...
I live very near Hever Castle and it is a great place to visit. I like the amazing gardens and I enjoy walking round them whatever the season.
The one thing I would say is that the cost of entrance is a little more expensive but when you see the castle and grounds which are amazing then you realise that a lot of money is spent on the up keep and it is to a very high standard. Also it is a piece of history which they are preserving.
There is a maze also in the garden and I always seem never to remember how to go round it that is fun for children and adults to go around.
There is a boating lake which you can go on but the price of this I thought was expensive over £10.
For the children there is an Adventure Playground which is ideal for families as it is very near one of the Restaurants.
There are lovely gardens to walk around and the one I do like the best is the Italian Garden but thereare others to explore likle the Rose Garden.
In the Summer they do arrange various events such as Josting where people are dressed in medieval costume and you can see them in act josting and get a flavour of what might have happened all those years ago.
Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Settled in the midst of Kent countryside Hever castle is set in beautiful, well maintained gardens.
There is the original stone castle filled with various antiques and artifacts from over the years. One of the items on show is Anne Boleyn's book of hours (prayer book) which is in immaculate condition and part of Anne Boleyn's bed. There are also lots of original paintings of various tudors including Anne, Henry and Mary Boleyn (Anne's sister and mistress to Henry VIII).
There is a yew tree maze, a water maze (more for children), an Italian garden, a rose garden (simply stunning) and a large lake (which you can boat on if you have a spare £10).
Be warned the food and drink is quite pricey form the cafe and the selection is not that great.
However, this is a simply amazing day out, there is a lot to do and see. I wouldn't advise it for young children as they may get bored looking around the castle. There is however a brilliant adventure playground which will keep children occupied and some good (but pricey) giftshops.
They have various events organised throughout the year such as jousting and costumed history days. It is well worth co-ordinating a visit when one of these days is on. Though they can get quite busy.
Hever Castle also has the facility to host weddings and other corporate events. How amazing to get married at Hever castle!!! (a little out of my price range though).
Castle and Gardens £12
Gardens only £9.50
Castle and Gardens £6.50
Gardens only £6.20
Castle and Gardens £10.00
Gardens only £8.00
Castle and gardens £30.50
Gardens only £25.50
(prices correct at time of writing).
After Anne Boleyn was beheaded, Henry VIII acquired the property which he then gave as part of his divorce settlement to Anne of Cleves, his 4th wife.
I really love this place, a brilliant day out.
Hever Castle is situated three miles SE of Edenbridge off the B2026 in the village of Hever. It is also signed from the Hildenborough exit of the A21.
The tudor age has fascinated me since my school days and because of this Hever castle was always top of my list of places to visit. When I finally did last year it was better than I expected (unusual for a castle) First the logistics bit, it is really easy to find as it is signposted from the M25 and the entrance is very reasonable, from memory it was about £7 or £8 pounds per adult, but I think we paid about £23(ish) for a family ticket. The car park that we used led us straight into the gardens without having seen the house so our first stop was the rose garden where Anne Boleyn first properly met Henry VIII. This meeting is of huge historical importance, they had met briefly once before as Anne had lived at the French Court and had met Henry in France while he was having an affair with her older sister Mary. The meeting in the Rose Garden is so important because it started a series of events that caused Henry to break with the catholic church in Rome so he could divorce Catherine (wife no 1) and marry Anne. All Henry really wanted was Anne, if she had lifted up her skirts there and then and let him take her under the roses he would have lost interest and we would possibly still be a catholic country. Which has impacted on our country ever since, N. Ireland would never have been an issue and Charles 1 would never have lost his head. The rose garden was therefore the place I really wanted to see, and I wasn't disappointed it is well designed in an enclosed area and even with the usual people milling around the garden it is incredibly peaceful, we were there at its peak and the smell of the roses was also incredible, naturally all of them traditional English roses not the modern hybreds that don't have much scent. Anne eventually lost her head by the skill of a french swordsm
an as when Henry realised that perhaps his actions had been a mistake he had her executed accusing her of witchcraft when all she had done was refused to sleep with him unless he married her. He also accused her of sleeping around with 5 other men, including her own brother. Our next visit was the boat house, which was being restored but is still incredibly beautiful and once again very peaceful. Set on the edge of the lake, which is great to just sit awhile. In all the gardens are well laid out and not too grand, some gardens like Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire are laid very formally which is fine but I prefer the more natural look, Hever was first and foremost a family home, so it is how you would expect a family garden (with a lot more land than your average housing estate house) to look. There are also many smaller areas within the garden like the rockery and the secret herb garden - again fantastic smell. The house itself was also really interesting again very homely and from the outside looks very beautiful and inviting, not at all like some of the imposing castles of a couple of centuries previously and surrounded by a small moat, the paintings are mainly portraits, including some by Hans Holbein who is famous for painting the picture of Anne of Cleeves for Henry when he was looking for wife no 4 and basically made an ugly woman look beautiful because he was in love with her, Henry fell for the picture then called the real thing a flanders mare and divorced her immediately. Some of the paintings took me by surprise considering the circumstances of Annes life, a portrait of Catherine of Aragon (wife no 1) which I found a little unusual in the Boleyn family home, but I am sure it wasn't there back then and has been added during restoration for the tudor appeal. There are also some historic documents displayed there and your standard tour
ist attraction mannequins dressed as the main players of the time, so Henry VIII and his 6 wives. There was also a dolls house exhibition which didn't really interest me but the detail in the houses was amazing and the kids really liked it. For the kids, big and small, there is a regular yew maze which is huge and unfortunately we didn?t have time to get lost in it and a water maze. The water maze is so funny and can easily take up a good hour as you have to walk around what appears to be a normal path trying to stay dry as some of the slabs move and you get wet feet the only way to stay dry is to get it right, the kids loved it. There is also a very well stocked adventure playground, which was a good place to have a picnic. The only part I can not really review is the food areas as we did not use them except to say that they looked fairly standard for country historical houses. All in all an excellent day out, very peaceful despite the number of people there. I would recommend Hever to anyone even if you're not as taken by the tudor age as I am. The only downside for me was that there was a visiting quilting exhibition on that day which was included in the admission price and not knowing true quilting etiquette I was asked to leave for not wearing little white gloves when touching the quilts!!! oops.
The history of Hever Castle dates back to the 13th Century and the gate house and outer walls from the original castle still stand today. Surrounded by a double moat and situated in the middle of the Kent countryside, the castle has a rich and varied history. In 1500 a Tudor manor was built within the original castle walls and later served to be the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII's 2nd wife and future mother of Queen Elizibeth the First. Following her beheading and Henry's subsequent marriage to Jane Seymour who died 12 days after childbirth, Hever Castle was used as part of a divorce settlement for his next wife, Anne of Cleves who resided there for the next 17 years. In 1903 the castle and grounds were acquired by William Waldorf-Astor, an American millionaire who became disenchanted with his homeland. After moving to England and becoming a naturalised British citizen, he not only bought the castle, he spent millions restoring the castle, enhanced the grounds and building a complete Tudor village to the rear of the castle. This was done as he thought that the castle itself was too small for him to live and entertain his guests! William Waldorf-Astor died in 1919 and eventually Hever Castle was passed to Gavin Astor (2nd Baron of Hever) who also spent much time and money making improvements to the Tudor village. The village itself is really one building cleverly designed to give the look of individual cottages. This was achieved by giving each section a unique look by making each of the cottages different sizes. However, in reality, the whole complex is connected by corridors and was designed to provide accomodation for not only the staff and servants, but for visiting family and friends. In the early 1960's it was decided to open the castle and grounds to the public and in 1981, Hever Castle, the village and most of the contents were sold to a private company who still maintain it today.
Although the Tudor village is not open to the public and is today only open for private guests, the castle and grounds are well worth a visit. The Italian garden in particular contains sculptures and statues from the Roman era that were collected in Italy. The castle is well worth a visit as the gardens are stunning all year round and there are also many exhibitions and events that take place throughout the opening season. The Yew maze is only one of a few in the country that are open to the public and is well worth getting lost in. Other notable mazes (that I have visited) are the ones located at Leeds Castle, also in Kent and Hampton Court Palace just south of London. Inside the grounds there is also a 35 acre lake which is an ideal spot for a picnic. However, if you decide not to take a picnic with you, there are several places on site, including two restaurants, to control your appetite. These are located behind the Italian garden and near to the castle itself. I found the food served on site was of a good quality and reasonably priced, compared with other tourist attractions. Probably the best time to visit would be during the summer when the schools are on their summer break. Hever Castle is a very popular destination for school outings and can therefore get extremely busy during term time. At the time of writing, entrance fees for the castle AND grounds are as following:- Adult : £8.00 Child : £4.40 OAP : £6.80 Family:£20.40 (2 adults / 2 kids) There are tickets available to the gardens only and these are obviously cheaper. The prices shown are set to rise next year (2002) by a small amount. (When I find out what they will be, I will update this op accordingly). All in all, its a good day out and should keep the kids amused, especially if you can lose them in the maze for a while!