Do you remember what people say, that love makes the world go round?… Well, my fellow travellers, this is the naked truth and to prove it, today I will take you on a visit to Hever Castle, which was the silent witness of one the most famous love stories worldwide, a love story that changed the history of England!
Nestled in the idyllic countryside in Kent, near a village called Edenbridge (well, that couldn’t have a better matching name!) and dating back to the 13th century, Hever Castle rises proudly from the surrounding moat, bursting with history, draped in Boston Ivy which becomes red in September making a stunning contrast with the honey color stone castle and attracting a lot of visitor willing to take eye catching photos.
Over more than 700 years, Hever Castle had 37 owners from 13 different families – the coats of arms in the stained glass in the Long Gallery are commemorating the different owners since the castle was built. However, the most famous inhabitant was probably Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I.
Here are the top 3 things you have to do at Hever Castle – an trust me, you will not feel when the time will fly away!
1. Go inside the Castle. You will find lavishly decorated rooms – paneled walls, fine furniture, tapestries, antiques and “one of the best collections of Tudor portraits after the National Portrait Gallery”. The Book of Hours Room displays 2 prayer books which belonged to Anne Boleyn, having her inscriptions and signature. You will also see Henry’s bedchamber, which is thought he was using when visiting to court Anne. In the Long Gallery, there is a permanent exhibition which brings the 16th century to life displaying costumed figures illustrating key events in Anne’s life at the Castle.
2. The Gardens. The castle is surrounded by exquisite gardens, with a wide array of features and spots to rest your head, like fountains, ponds, a cascade and, of course, the lake that stretches to 35 acres in size and took 2 years of digging and 800 men involved in the digging at one time. They were created by another famous owner of the castle, more recently, in the 20th century – William_Waldorf_Astor“– who used his considerable fortune renovating it, building the “Tudor village”.
Have a look at the Tudor Garden with the giant topiary Chees set.
Wander through The Italian Garden, designed to display Astor’s collection of Italian sculpture – is beautiful, peppered with bas-reliefs, columns, statues, the Pompeiian Wall. Don’t forget to have a dreamy walk along the pergola.
The Rose Garden, more like a roses heaven, flowering from May to October continuously, will enchant your senses with the perfume of over 4000 rose bushes.
The castle has even his secret garden, called the Roman Bath Garden, a very peaceful and inspiring corner.
To make the most of the garden, there are some walks you can take – Anne Boleyn’s Walk, lined by trees planted over 100 years ago, or the Rhododendron’s Walk which is amazing when they are in full bloom.
3. A stroll around the lake. If you feel fit enough, you can go around the lake, more or less of a 2 hours leisure stroll or rent one of the boats available.
You got your little ones with you? Nothing to worry about, there are also places where children can have fun, like the Splashing Water Maze and a Miniature Model Houses exhibit, a collection of miniatures, all in 1/12th scale, depicting life from Domesday England to the Victorian times.Now, to end up in a story tale note, I will tell you the story of Anne Boleyn and Kind Henry VIII – my, oh, my, they have quite a story!
When Anne met King Henry VIII, she was a lady-in-waiting to Henry’s wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry, who had enough of his marriage by then and desperately wanted an heir, started eyeing Anne and courting her with the aim of making her his mistress. (You should also know that, before pursuing Anne, Henry VIII had already had an affair with her sister, Mary, and rumors says that her mother had shared the king’s bed as well. Oh, my, definitely this guy liked to have, hmmm… “good relationships” with the whole the family! :-))
But Anne was a smart ambitious woman – she resisted his attempts to seduce her unless he proposed her. And she kept him besotted like this for 7 years (you kidding me?!?!), when Henry finally broke down and ask the pope for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine. The Pope didn’t agree to this, so Henry broke with the Catholic Church declaring himself the head of Church of England and married Anne Boleyn. Well, ladies and gents, this is why Anne has been named “the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had”!
She was a queen for only 1000 days – after giving birth to a daughter instead of a much awaited male heir, Henry thought it is time to find himself a brand-new wife and started courting Jane Seymour, who was Anne’s second cousin. He charged Anne with adultery, incest and plotting to kill the king, imprisoned her in the Tower of London then beheaded shortly. He married his third wife, Jane Seymour, just eleven days after the execution of Anne.
There is something more you should be aware when it comes about this place – there are several people claiming to have seen Anne’s ghost at Hever Castle! Even thou, it is definitely a place you shouldn’t miss on your to-see list!
See you soon!