The rather ill fated love story between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is well known to almost all English people. Much of their courtship took place in Boleyn’s family home, Hever Castle, a charming building with beautiful grounds. If you fancy a step back in time, you can visit it like I did with the ladies of my family.
Related: Hampton Court Palace
We started our day out by having a coffee and muffin in the cafe. Due to social distancing measures, we had to sit outside, but it wasn’t an issue – the sun was beaming down on us that morning and we had a lovely view of the Hever Shop. The staff at Hever Castle had also started to cook up a surprise: the smell of a BBQ was drifting through the air, completely teasing us! At least the blueberry muffin they had available was moist and delicious.
After our pit-stop, we planned to go straight into the house to explore, but were met with a line gathering on the wooden bridge over the moat. A very polite member of staff warned us that we couldn’t join the queue until it had died down slightly, and even then it would be a 45 minute wait. So, we cut our losses and decided to walk around the garden, taking in the sights and smells of nature in the summer.
The garden is structured like a small maze, and I expected it to be more floral than it was. The high hedges dominated, and the colours were essentially one hundred shades of green, but it was still an enjoyable way to spend 10 minutes while we waited for the queue to the house to reduce. There was one particular area in the garden that I found the most appealing: a small courtyard of pink flowers and a fountain. The way the breeze was blowing meant that the water of the fountain sprayed right at us – a pleasant refreshment!
Eventually, we were able to enter the house. I wasn’t expecting to be able to go inside at all, since other historic homes in Kent were closed to the public. It’s clearly been lovingly restored, but the most fascinating aspect of it is the collection of paintings it houses. There you will see some of the most famous paintings of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, and other Tudor and Stuart monarchs.
Related: Ightham Mote
Like many historic homes, the rooms of Hever Castle are dark, and panelled with dark woods, but sometimes you stumble across an area that reminds you that it is actually a castle. The staircases are tight, winding, and made of stone, and you do have to wonder how on earth they managed to get furniture upstairs! My favourite part were the windows overlooking the courtyard into the castle. I imagined myself as a member of the aristocracy, looking demurely over at the people below… then I remembered who I am, and thought about how funny it would be to lob an egg out the window.
At least my mum entertained my thought process!
My the end of our exploration in the house, we were peckish and decided to sit down for some lunch. Across the lawns, where people were sitting with their picnics, there was a stall selling pizzas, and an ice cream van – nice touch.
We then walked through the Italian gardens towards the lake, enjoying the array of plants, and ancient artefacts. There are some sculptures with Roman origins! Then we reached the lake, and I desperately wanted to hire a rowing boat, and spend some time on the water – alas, I don’t think the four of us were really cut out for it, so I’ll have to wait until next time. We had to settle looking at the rather majestic fountain instead!
And so, our visit to Hever Castle was over, and we left feeling thoroughly satisfied with our time immersed in history, and basking in the sun.