By Maaya Takata
Dating back to the 13th century, Hever Castle was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and Mother of Elizabeth I. Located in the village of Hever, Kent, everyone will be able to enjoy time looking at the castle’s beautiful interiors, magnificent award-winning gardens set in 125 acres of glorious grounds and the tranquil lake with the magical lakeside locations of the Italian Loggia and Japanese Tea House folly.
The history of Hever Castle is rich and varied. As the original medieval defensive castle, the oldest part of the castle was built in 1270 and consisted of the gatehouse and walled bailey. The central feature of the first motte and bailey castle was the Hall; a rectangular timber structure, usually of three bays with a central hearth and a dais at one end. The present gatehouse is built of sandstone and would have been the only stone building on the site. In the 14th century, the castle changed from its original circular motte and bailey design. The area behind the Gatehouse became an inner bailey containing separate timber framed buildings all surrounded by a stone curtain wall.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Hever Castle was the home of one of the most powerful families in the country, the Boleyns. In 1462, Geoffrey Boleyn bought the castle and transformed it into a manor. He added a Tudor dwelling within the walls. Geoffrey had made a successful career as Master of the Mercer’s Company and became Lord Mayor of London in c.1457.
His grandson was Thomas Boleyn, who became Anne Boleyn’s father. He married Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and lived there with their three surviving children: Mary, Anne and George.
After Anne’s execution in 1536, Thomas continued to live at Hever until his death in 1539. Hever later passed into the ownership of Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. Although it is not known how much time she spent at the castle, Anne owned the Hever Castle until her death in 1557. From 1557 onwards, the castle was owned by a number of families including the Waldegraves, the Humphreys and the Meade Waldos.
Much of what you see today at the Hever Castle is the result of the remarkable efforts of William Waldorf Astor, who purchased the castle in 1903 and used his fortune to restore and extend the castle. He set about the restoration of the castle, construction of the Astor Wing and creation of the lake and gardens in the early 20th century.
Throughout the year, you will enjoy the different faces of the Hever Castle. If you visit there from 23 November to 24 December, you will be welcomed by the enchanting castle decorated for Christmas. In March, the castle will be full of daffodils, while the castle’s annual garden event will showcase the glorious garden at the height of their summer beauty in July. The castle offers various places to eat and shop unique gifts, local food and drink, books and seasonal plants. It is about 2 hours by bus and train from Brighton, the Hever Castle will be the perfect place for a day out.