Monday, 24 July 2017

Hever Castle

On July 12th, Mr K and I decided as I was staying with him and it's always been on my list of things to see and do that we should pay a visit to Hever castle.

Brief history (because I couldn't help myself!)

I'm a huge Tudor fan and was so, so excited to visit the castle and the gardens. Hever Castle was built in the 13th century and is best known as the place where a young Anne Boleyn grew up until leaving for The Netherlands in 1513 to receive an education at the court of the Archduchess Margaret. Anne returned to Hever in 1522 when her Father requested her return to England to marry her cousin James Butler. The marriage plans were broken up by Cardinal Wolsey and Anne went to the court to serve the current queen; Catherine of Aragon. 

Hever came into The Kings' possession after Thomas Boleyn died and he later gifted the castle to Anne of Cleaves as part of their divorce in 1540. 


After the Tudors, Hever Castle passed through various owners, the first being the Waldegrave family in 1557 and the Meade Waldo family from 1749 to 1903. During this period of ownership, the castle fell into a poor state of repair, it was leased to private tenants and at one point even housed cattle!  In 1903, it was acquired and restored by the American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, who used it as a family home. He added the Italian Garden and in 1983 the Astor family sold the castle.

The Visit



Walking down the driveway to the castle was simply amazing, I felt so excited to see the castle. We followed behind two jousters who rode their horses to the drawbridge (which, by the way, still works!) We all gathered to admire the horses when Henry VIII came out from the castle with his new Queen Consort Anne Boleyn. He declared a celebration so with loud cheers most of the visitors flocked to see the fabulous jousting event while Mr K and I decided to view the caste first. Huge shout out to the 2 members of staff who were absolutely amazing in helping us up and down the steps in the wheelchair. This part isn't accessible to wheelchair users. Due to health and safety, no ramp can be installed. The staff ware fantastic though.

Mr K and I both toured the ground floor together. We saw the Entrance Hall that Anne's father built in c.1506. If you look at the doorway directly opposite the current entrance you will see original Tudor timber. Had to touch that!

The first room was the Inner Hall which would've been the Great Kitchen during the Tudor period. There were many paintings hung and beautiful woodwork to see. The ceiling was beautiful, done in the Elizabethan style and incorporating the Tudor rose emblem. Next was the Drawing Room which would've contained the domestic offices. It became the drawing room in 1905 and many parts of it are Elizabethan inspired. This was my least favourite room. Although it is clearly beautiful and fit to entertain the finest in society there was nothing remotely Tudor about this room and I found that a little disappointing. 

The Great Hall was next and it is so beautiful. The woodwork is truly amazing, the Boleyn coat of arms was made to go over the great fireplace and the whole room had a truly grand feeling about it. 

A wonderful place to eat your dinner!

Henry VIII had his own locks put onto the doors of every place he stayed

We saw The Library which would've been the administrative offices in the Tudor period but became the Library in 1905. The bookcases in this room are copied from ones once owned by Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist.


I ventured up the spiral staircase and visited what is thought to have been Anne Boleyn's bedroom. There was a lovely view of the houses on the other side of the moat but I loved the single red rose I could see from the bedroom.


Mr K had to stay on the ground floor but was given a tablet which gave him access to the floors above with images and guided information enabling him to view the same items as I did going around. I love all the little statues and pictures in Anne's bedroom. A headboard for a bed is also in this room and whilst not Anne's, it is certainly a fantastic piece found near the time of what Anne's bed would've certainly looked like and I still found it quite magical.


Wooden headboard. It is thought Anne would've owned something similar

Original Tudor stained glass

I ventured through the The Book of Hours room where I saw displays of Tudor clothing and the Book of Hours which was famously written in by Anne Boleyn. The words 'The time will come' can be found in French in this book. Another book she wrote in and signed was her second Book of Hours with the sentence, written in English instead of French this time: 'Remember me and when you do pray'. This is also on display here. I briefly looked around The Queens Chamber which included famous paintings of all 6 of King Henry's wives plus a remarkable painting of himself. There was also a Prie Dieu used for payer on display which was rather wonderful.


Women's head wear

I walked around and found The Kings Bedchamber which was beautiful. The wooden panelling dates back to the 16th century but the ceiling is the oldest in the castle dating back to c1462. It is well known that King Henry stayed at Hever Castle several times during his courtship with Anne. It was pretty awesome being in this room.

The Kings Bedchamber

 The Waldegrave room was full of beautiful ornaments and woodwork and included a fascinating little off room called the Oratory which was added to the room in 1584 during the reign of the protestant Queen Elizabeth I to allow Sir Edward to practice his Catholic faith. The Waldegrave family owned Hever from 1557 to 1715. 

Inside the Oratory

Towards the end of the tour upstairs I wandered through The Long Gallery which held the exhibition The Life and Times of Anne Boleyn. The room featured the 3 key events in Anne's life: her as a young girl before she would've left Hever, her sister Mary with Henry VIII (Mary was Henry's mistress before Henry laid eyes on Anne) and Anne staring longingly at her love Henry Percy with whom she would never be with. Finally, Anne reads letters sent to her from the King.


Anne with a photo of Henry Percy, her first love

I explored the gatehouse and then made my way back down to the courtyard. Once out, we had a lovely walk around the gardens. The rose garden was simply beautiful, I wish the weather wasn't so on and off because it was the perfect place for a picnic. We gazed at the views, at the statues and fountains, everything was gorgeous. 



We had an amazing day and I really recommend it for absolutely anyone, especially a Tudor lover like me or a little history buff! 
Have you ever visited Hever? Perhaps if you haven't you should consider a little trip of your own!

Cupcake Mumma

3 comments:

  1. I went to Hever Castle when my boys were young, loved it. Thanks for some great memories x x (p.s. so pleased for you x x)

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    1. Ah isn't it wonderful Joy? I could def visit again!
      And thank you xxx

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  2. That castle is amazing. When you think how little they had to work with, yet the buildings are still standing! Amazing workmanship. I do love these old castles, and am going to try to get the boys to more, this summer x

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