Hever Castle dates from around 1270 when the construction was a moated castle. Some parts of this remain but most of the initial structure was turned into a Tudor manor house in the 15th century by the Bullen family. Hever Castle is now an attractive fortified manor house surrounded by a moat.
The castle is famous for being the birthplace of Anne Boleyn (Bullen), one of Henry VIII’s wives and the mother of Elizabeth I. After Anne Boleyn was executed Henry seized the castle from the Bullen family and gave it to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
In 1903 the castle was acquired by William Waldorf Astor, owner of the Waldorf Hotel in London. He carried out extensive renovations to the castle and created the lake and gardens that are seen today.
The gardens have water features such as Half Moon Pond, the Cascade Rockery, the formal loggia fountain which is derived from the Trevi fountain in Rome, and the more informal Two Sisters Pond. Other areas that offer pleasant walks are the Tudor Garden, Rhododendron Walk and Anne Boleyn’s Walk with its collection of trees planted over 100 years ago. As if that were not enough there is a Yew Maze and a splashing water maze can be found on Sixteen Acre Island – ideal for keeping the interest of youngsters bored with looking at plants. Further attractions for children include an enclosed wooden playground which has activities suitable for children up to the age of 14. Younger children are not forgotten as there is specific equipment for the under 5’s.
For those seeking to relive some of the more bloodthirsty aspects of the castle a visit to the 13th century gatehouse is a must. Here the brave visitor will discover a large collection of historic swords and armour, together with instruments of execution and torture. Some of the most gruesome exhibits include several beheading swords and an early eighteenth century torture collar with deep spikes.
There is a choice of places to eat within the grounds of the estate, ranging from full restaurant facilities to light refreshments. Souvenirs of a day spent at Hever Castle are available from The Hever Shop which has a range of unique gifts inspired by the castle’s history. For the gardening enthusiasts there is also The Courtyard Shop devoted to gardening equipment, plants and shrubs.
Most of the garden areas are level and are accessible to wheelchairs, however, access to the castle is difficult as there are spiral staircases to the upper floors and no ramps. A limited number of wheelchairs are available for hire for a refundable deposit.
Tel: 01732 861 700