Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent, England

Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent, England

Home of the Boleyns

My very favorite time and place in the entirety of world history is Tudor England. And my favorite people from that time period are King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Even though I have been to England three times (almost four), I have never visited Hever Castle and Gardens – Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. Shocking, I know.

Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent - Ancestral Home of the Boleyn Family

Anne called Hever Castle home when she caught the eye of the king. King Henry VIII, still married at the time, would stay at the nearby Bolebroke Castle while courting young Anne and pursuing his favorite pastime of hunting.

Anne did not spend much of her pre-Henry VIII life at Hever Castle, however, which is why it’s referred to as her childhood home.  She was at the French royal court from approximately age 13 to age 20.  Upon returning to the English court, she became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon.  Her striking looks and polished manners drew the attraction of not just the King, but also many male courtiers.

Inside the Castle

Today, Hever Castle gives us a glimpse of Tudor life, although many additions have been made over the years.  Here are a few of the rooms I look forward to seeing in person some day.

First, the Dining Room.  In the fifteenth century this room was the Great Hall and was originally open to the roof rafters. English sculptor William Silver Frith designed the linenfold paneling, the ceiling and the fireplace with the Boleyn coat of arms.

Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent - the Dining Room
Dining Room

The Inner Hall was the Great Kitchen in the Tudor period. William Silver Frith designed the Italian walnut paneling and columns as part of the 1905 restoration of Hever Castle. The rood screen at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, served as the inspiration for the gallery above the hall. by The Elizabethan ceiling incorporates the Tudor rose emblem.

Hever Castle and Gardens - the Inner Hall
Inner Hall

The Morning Room was a private retiring room in the Tudor period. The paneling and fireplace date to the seventeenth century. The elaborate stone fireplace surround includes the initials H.W. representing Henry Waldegrave.  It was Waldgrave’s family that owned Hever Castle after the Boleyns’ fall from grace, between 1557 and 1715.

Hever Castle and Gardens - the Morning Room
Morning Room

And finally, the 16th century Long Gallery extends across the entire width of the Castle. The room had many uses, including entertaining guests, taking exercise, and displaying art collections. The paneling dates from the sixteenth century. The ceiling is an early twentieth-century reconstruction in the Tudor style.

Hever Castle and Gardens - the Long Gallery
Long Gallery

Visiting Hever Castle and Gardens

The castle offers tourists a look at three floors containing antique furniture, Anne Boleyn’s prayer books, instruments of torture, and a large collection of Tudor paintings. The site also contains a museum of the Kent Yeomanry, an artillery regiment formed after World War I. The gatehouse is the only original part of the castle, and it has the oldest working original portcullis in all of England.

In addition to those historic attractions, Hever Castle has an annual events program that includes jousting tournaments and archery displays in the summer months and an annual patchwork and quilting exhibition in September.

The grounds of the castle include a yew maze, planted in 1904. In 1999, Hever Castle and Gardens added a water maze – visitors must try to reach the folly at the center without getting wet. A special children’s adventure playground also has a tower maze.

Hever Castle is located at Hever Rd, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG.  Telephone +44 1732 865224.  Hours vary by season; check the website or call when planning your visit.

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