Hever Castle is quite an attraction. 3 main reasons for this popularity: Ann Boleyn, the spectacular gardens and the man-made lake. It is no surprise it attracts over 250,000 visitors each year! Dating back to 1270, this historic castle was bought in the early 1500s by the Boleyn family, who then added a Tudor dwelling within the walls. This is the place where Ann Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth Ist, spent her childhood.
The castle was later bestowed by Henry to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. The building subsequently passed through various owners and sadly fell into a poor state of repair, until it was purchased in 1903 by the American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor, who invested time and money lavishly in restoring the Castle. Astor also built a ’Tudor Village’ and created the gardens and lake.
Since 1983, the castle has been owned by Broadland Properties Limited and is open to the public. It enjoys a comfortable, roomy atmosphere and houses an amazing collection of 16th century Tudor portraits, furniture and tapestries. Ann Boleyn's magnificent Books of Hours, both signed and inscribed by her (Le temps viendra, the time will come) can also been seen. The Long Gallery exhibits costumed figures of Henry VIII and his six wives, an amusing and simple way of learning 'who was who' in the long marital life of King Henry. The Council Chamber in the 13th century gatehouse contains collections of historic swords, armor, instruments of torture and discipline. One of the most spectacular area of the gardens is the Italian Garden, which was created to display William Waldorf Astor’s rich collection of Italian sculpture.
Collected in Italy, it includes art from the Roman period to the Renaissance.
Strikingly, a 38 acre lake was excavated at the end of the Italian Garden. It took 800 men 2 years to complete!
Overlooking the lake is a formal loggia fountain based on the Trevi fountain in Rome
The 125 acres of gardens include a colorful walled Rose Garden, which contains over 3,000 plants,
A Rhododendron Walk in which to enjoy a leisurely stroll,
A Tudor Garden, topiaries and yew mazes. And plenty of joyful activities for everyone! A wonderful way of spending the day.