Summer has arrived and is firmly underway in the UK, and with that, many people jet off on their 1 or 2 week breaks to Europe or further afield. However, you don’t always have to jet off to faraway lands to discover something new, or different. Something amazing can be found on your doorstep.
Living back in England, and having recently moved to the South East, where I have no connections, or spent any significant periods of time in. I have set upon discovering something new each weekend, in my
Weekend Wander Series
This past weekend, I travelled over to the neighbouring county of Kent, to visit Hever Castle and Gardens, and what a stunning day out it was.
Nestled in the heart of the Kent Countryside, in a little village called Hever (naturally). This Castle was once childhood home to Anne Boleyn (one of the wives of King Henry the VIII). The Castle itself, started off as a country house, and was owned by the Boleyn family. It was Aquired by an American Millionaire Waldorf Astor, and later passed on to a property manager, when it opened as a tourist attraction in 1983.
As soon as you arrive up into Hever Castle, you know you are in for a treat, A large red brick archway greets you, with perfectly manicured lawns and gorgeous flowers.
The estate is huge, and there is always so much going on, and you can easily spent a day here. There are annual events (on the day I travelled here; there was a dog show), so it may be worth checking, just in case you don’t want it to be super busy (although, even with the dog show, it didn’t feel too busy, even on a Sunny Saturday).
As Casltes go, Hever does feel a little smaller, but the grounds make up for it. There are many gardeners who work at Hever, that maintain its beauty, from the stunning flowers and water features, to hedges shaped like animals (perfect for little visitors).
You should aim to spend a good fraction of your time in and around the gardens, as they are truly beautiful, and often not as busy, as the Castle. If you take a stroll beyond the Castle, you will come to the stunning lake, where if you’d like, can hire a boat for a period of time – a wonderfully relaxed activity in the sun.
When you’re done on the lake, you can even grab an ice cream from the nearby stall (Kentish Ice Cream)- if you don’t mind queuing for it, that is (It is quite popular, and rightly so).
Visiting the Castle
Ok, so the Castle is kind of the main feature, so lets not forget that. Although the Castle started off, more of a stately home (or country house). It is a proper castle, with a moat, and drawbridge in place. There is a flag flying high, which is made up of the coat of arms from all those who owned the Castle.
As you walk over the wooden drawbridge you’ll enter a small courtyard, but that is as far as the camera is allowed to go. There are no photographs or videos allowed inside the actual castle (which I was a little disappointed about, as the stained glassed windows were stunning). However, you can purchase a guidebook, or audioguide, which will give you information, as you go around.
Don’t want to leave?
If you’ve fallen in love with Hever Castle and the grounds, and have a bit of money to spend, you can also stay at the castle if you wish to, in the Astor Wing (One of my dreams is to stay in, or get married in a Castle). However, I couldn’t quite justify it on my visit (the staying – not marriage!)
Instead I sat on the lawn, overlooking the Caslte, eating my lunch in the sun.
If the gardens, hiring a boat, seeing a castle and having an ice cream wasn’t enough. Hever Castle also has a gift shop (as standard really), and a courtyard shop, where you can buy homewares and gardening supplies, including plants, grown at Hever. There is an archery lawn, where you can play, and an adventure playwark for the kids.
So really, Hever makes for a great day out – no matter how old you are.
For your Information (Its the kinda helpful bit)
Hever Castle is approximately 1 hour south west of London, and you can get a direct train (to Hever Station) from London Bridge Station. Alternatively, you can drive from larger towns in Kent, such as Tonbridge, or Sevenoaks. I came from Crawley, in West Sussex, which took me 45 minutes by car.
There is parking adjacent to the grounds, which is free and secure.
A ticket to the Castle and the Grounds will cost you £16, or £13.50 for just the gardens alone. There are discounts for students, seniors and children.
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Enjoy your Weekend.