When we were driving around Kent last month, visiting poorly relatives I spotted the sign for somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years. I’m not one for going out for lunch on Mother’s Day, I’d much rather go out for the day and visit somewhere new, in my opinion it makes for a far more memorable day. So that’s how we came to spend Sunday exploring Hever Castle, close to Edenbridge in Kent.
I’ve always loved history and the Tudor period, which is something I seem to have passed on to my nine-year old son too. I couldn’t wait to show him the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and the moated castle. Although the weather was a good ten degrees colder than the previous day, the motorway gods did appear to be on our side for a change and we arrived not long after the site opened at 10.30am. On the website I’d noticed that the castle didn’t open until 12, but on the day we visited we were told we could go straight in if we wished.
As we walked towards the castle we couldn’t help but be impressed with the grounds, I hadn’t expected the large lake and I could see we’d have to investigate that further later in the day.
We grabbed a quick drink and snack before heading off to spend time exploring Hever Castle before it got too busy. I’d waited so long for this visit, I really wanted to enjoy the experience to the full and my son get’s easily put off if places are too busy.
We were in luck, no queues and plenty of room to admire the building and it’s contents.
Being a history geek, I just love visiting places like Hever Castle, and am always filled with wonder about the footsteps we are following in. It’s pretty amazing to think that Henry VIII and his second wife had walked through the rooms that we were looking in. That Anne Boleyn had called this beautiful building home. And trust me, it is beautiful.
From the wood carvings to the decorative locks, the stained glass windows and beyond.
I was so glad we’d made the trip, and to see my son taking it all in too. There was a kids trail he could have completed and you can buy an audio guide, but we were just happy taking everything in at our own pace. He was most impressed to find out that Anne of Cleves had also spent time living in Hever Castle.
There’s so much to see when you spend time exploring Hever Castle, as the grounds are extensive and varied in their layout. Even on a chilly March day we enjoyed ourselves and I can only imagine how wonderfully colourful the place will be in a couple of months time.
Walking along the Pergola Walk you can enjoy views across the formal Italian Garden and see water trickling down the rocks.
Before reaching the Half Moon Pond.
There’s lots of space and a real variation as you walk around the grounds. My son was in his element, and of course the whole ideal of a moat that actually had water in it just made his day.
In front of the castle itself you’ll find the Topiary Walk which leads up to the main Moat Restaurant and shop area.
Whilst on the other side of the path lies Anne Boleyn’s Orchard.
To the right of the castle we discovered the Tudor Garden with its topiary chess set, and knot garden, along with the maze within the Winter Garden.
We’d decided earlier in the day that we wanted to explore the lake walk but before we headed off away from the castle area my son had spotted a staircase which needed further investigation. So we made our way towards the Golden Stairs.
There are different pathways you can take but as we wanted to head for the lake we opted to walk towards the Two Sisters Lawn, passing the pond and it wasn’t long before my son had found a stick.
When we’d arrived at Hever Castle we’d been given a map and we’d spotted a Water Maze mentioned. We had no idea what this would entail but as it was something we’d pass on the lake walk we would soon find out. Have you ever seen a water maze before? Let’s just say that Daddy P went the wrong way and got a tad wet as a consequence, whilst my son and I couldn’t stop laughing. Well worth a visit.
Once Daddy P had dried off a bit we continued our walk through the chestnut avenue, stopped to enjoy the Millennium Fountain and carried on round the lake.
As we headed back towards the castle area we could see the Loggia which edged the lake. it reminded us very much of part of the grounds at Trentham Gardens. The closer we got the more impressive it looked.
There is a large play area which we passed as we spent time exploring Hever Castle, but my son wasn’t bothered about investigating further, he was more interested in visiting the KSY Military Museum.
We’d had a wonderful time exploring Hever Castle and the gardens, and we all agreed that it’s somewhere we’d enjoy returning to again. Have you been?