Nestled within the stunning Kent High Weald and surrounded by beautiful countryside, Hever Castle is a bit of a hidden gem.
Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s idyllic childhood home, is set within 125 acres of glorious grounds. Surrounded by a double moat, Hever Castle originally dates back to the 13th century, with additions over the years. It’s fascinating to look at the oldest part of the castle which consists of the gatehouse and walled bailey. In the 15th and 16th centuries the Boleyn family added the Tudor dwelling within the walls. It is said that Henry VIII used to visit Anne Boleyn and stay at Hever Castle while they were courting. We love fascinating facts like this – it’s wonderful to imagine Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII taking strolls around the grounds and still be able to walk in their footsteps today.
The most recent changes to Hever Castle were in the early twentieth century when William Waldorf Astor took time to restore the castle, using his money and imagination. He also commissioned the Tudor Village and constructed the magnificent gardens and lake. So if you are looking for a day out and love to visit gardens, this is a great place.
The history of Hever Castle is really intriguing, you can find out more on the Hever Castle website.
The gardens are absolutely breathtaking – it will honestly make you wonder how many gardeners it takes working on it daily to keep it looking so wonderful and with such a gorgeous array of flowers and plants. We visited the gardens in June which was a fantastic choice – the rose garden was absolutely splendid, with the delightful addition of roses climbing available walls, arches and pergolas! Absolutely beautiful and it was wonderful to take time to admire all the varieties and ooh and aah at some of the exquisite scents (I’m a massive fan of roses so was in my element!) You can also marvel at statues in the Italian garden and look out for other little waterfalls and quirky little features. I love to visit gardens, they are a great place for garden inspiration.
Take time to visit the Loggia, a peaceful spot, almost like a large balcony, overlooking the huge lake, with it’s fountains – it’s a stunning view. From here you can walk around the lake, following the flowing path through trees and at times quite close to the water – great photo opportunities! It takes about an hour to walk around the lake.
Some areas within the grounds are available for private hire, while we were there one area was only open to the public until 3.30pm as staff were busy preparing for a wedding – what a stunning venue for any event! The special couple and their guests had a beautiful day for it. If you take a look at the Hever Castle website you can see they offer venue hire for corporate hospitality events, private parties as well as availability for filming.
We saw a few posters around for events, additionally one area within the stunning gardens was set up for a live comedy type show, if you’ve got kids they also have events taking place during the school holidays. You can also stay at the castle as they offer bed and breakfast accommodation. There were also signs for children’s play areas and we passed a water maze which would have been great fun to go through even as an adult – unfortunately no dogs were allowed, which is a shame as they would have loved it too! We were pleased that dogs are allowed in all outside areas as long as they are on a lead and it’s a really nice walk for them, with shady areas if it’s a warm day.
We visited on a beautiful June day and there were quite a lot of other people there but it’s over such a large area that you didn’t need to worry about stepping on each other’s toes. We enjoyed pizza for lunch and managed to find a nice shady spot outside the cafe.
We didn’t look at the map a great deal while we were there, we just explored the grounds at our leisure but afterwards realised there were some areas we missed, for example the indoor miniature village. (Who doesn’t love a miniature village?!) No worries though as we will definitely be going back, so will remember to look at the map next time!
What you need to know:
- Parking at Hever Castle is free, when we visited there were marshals guiding us to parking spaces.
- You can save money by pre-booking your visit via the Hever Castle website but tickets are also available if you turn up and pay at the gate. You can choose either castle and gardens or just gardens.
- Dogs are allowed in outside areas but must be kept on a lead.
- It was a mainly flat walk but there were some steps if you wanted to explore slightly hidden away areas, such as a waterfall we spotted.
- You will be given a map so use it to make the most of your visit.
- It’s suitable for children as well as adults and actually I remember going there as a child and it’s a great way to let kids explore a bit of history.