For our fifth day in the south of England, we had planned a day trip to Brighton. Luckily, we found out that the Brighton Marathon was being held that day and the town would be flooded with athletes, spectators, cars and buses and we would be lucky to even get near the famous pier. Because England is so rich with history, we were able to choose another venue and set off for Hever Castle in Kent.
The lush spring countryside did not disappoint. We saw a couple of Oast Houses, a distinctive cone-shaped structure designed to dry hops as part of the brewing process. As hops are now machine-dried, the redundant Oast Houses have been converted into homes. We ate lunch el fresco at a fabulous, traditional half timbered English pub. Henry VIII Pub in Hever, Kent is an iconic venue for fine brews and food in a cozy setting with wood paneling, leather sofas and open fireplaces.
love the front and back view of Henry
A tour of Hever Castle reveals seven hundred years of history. Built in 1270, it served as a country home and was the seat of The Boleyn, originally “Bullen” family from 1462-1539. Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII, spent her youth there. Later, Anne of Cleves, Henry’ s fourth wife, came into possession of the castle. The castle had a series of owners into the 20th Century, when William Waldorf Astor purchased it in 1903. He invested a great deal of time and money into restoring the castle, building the “Tudor Village” and creating a lake and lavish gardens to display his statuary and ornaments collection. A family lived in Hever Castle until the early 1970’s. In 1983, it became a company owned tourist venue.
The castle is double moated and has a couple of lovely courtyards within. The woodwork is exquisite throughout. The antique glass windows lit each room with softly diffused sunlight. Fine furniture, tapestries and antiques decorate the many rooms. A collection of Tudor portraits rates only second to those in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Some details at Hever have been left in their original, unrestored condition so visitors can see the process of change over the years. Photography was not permitted inside the castle. There are many pictures on-line if you want to explore the interior more.
a view from inside at the moat and topiary trees
After our castle tour, we strolled the gardens enjoying the incredible sculpture collection, amazing plantings, the soft perfectly trimmed lawns, the trees and bushes in spring blossom, the tranquil lake and the ducks and daffodils along the riverbank.