Hever Castle is a romantic 13th Century castle with a wet moat and beautiful landscaped gardens. It was associated with not one, but two of King Henry VIII's wives. Anne Boleyn lived out her childhood here and later Anne of Cleves was given Hever as part of her settlement.
Hever Castle sits beside the River Eden, just east of Edenbridge. It was first constructed in 1270 when it consisted of a gatehouse and walled bailey.
In 1340 a licence to crenellate was granted to William de Hever. It is unclear how much work he did because a second licence was granted to Sir John de Cobham in 1384.
In 1460 Geoffrey Bullen, Lord Mayor of London and great-grandfather of Anne Boleyn acquired the castle. By this point the castle's structure had deteriorated and was in need of repair.
Geoffrey Bullen built a Tudor manor within the castle's walls. It is a simple, square enclosure with Tudor windows punctuating its walls and Tudor chimneys and gables.
The front of the castle is dominated by the oblong gatehouse with its slightly off-centre entrance. Inside the gate passage there are two wooden portcullises and the front corners have square towers projecting out.
Inside the small courtyard there are, now heavily-restored, Tudor timber ranges on three sides.
It is uncertain when Anne came to Hever Castle. It's possible that she was born here, but the parish records are incomplete and even the date of her birth is debated among historians. She did spend her childhood here and only left in 1513 to further her education at the court of Archduchess Margaret of Austria.
In January 1522 she was back at Hever and she would be back and forth from Hever to King Henry's court quite frequently.
In 1526 King Henry VIII started his pursuit of Anne. He often stayed at nearby Bolebroke Castle to be near the object of his affection. At first Anne spurned his advances – she didn't want to be a mere mistress. She must have been persuaded however as she took on a greater role at court. Eventually, of course, becoming queen consort to Henry in 1533 when she moved in to Greenwich Palace.
After Anne's execution Hever Castle became the property of the crown. In 1540 Henry bestowed the castle to Anne of Cleves as part of her settlement.
After this the castle passed through a number of hands until it came into the possession of the Meade Waldo family. Again the castle was starting to fall into disrepair and the castle was let out to various tenants.
In 1903 the American millionaire William Astor bought over the castle and its estate and set about an extensive programme of renovation and building.
He created the mock Tudor village beside the castle and built the beautiful gardens and lake. He restored the timber ranges and interiors. He didn't change the exterior and it is still authentic.
In 1983 Broadland Properties took over the running of Hever and opened it to the public. The castle is run as a tourist attraction. It has a range of shops, cafe and restaurants.
The castle rooms have been restored to their Tudor magnificence with 16th Century furniture, tapestries and portraits. Hever's connection to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is celebrated and they even have two prayer books signed by Anne herself.
Outside the castle there are award-winning ornamental gardens, an adventure playground and mazes to be navigated. The gardens are home to regular jousting competition, archery, and a summer theatre festival.
In addition Hever Castle offers luxury bed and breakfast accommodation and can cater for corporate hospitality, wedding events and groups and parties.
Status: Tourist Attraction / Accommodation / Corporate Hospitality / Event Venue / Wedding Venue
Owner: Broadland Properties Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)1732 865 224
Opening Times: April to October Daily 10.30am to 6pm / November to March Wed-Sun see website for times
The front of Hever Castle with the gatehouse and moat
Topiary chess set in the landscape gardens at Hever