Most Famous Residents: Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Anne of Cleves.
Hever Castle Hotel near London, was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and the mother of Elizabeth I, putting it right in the top league of England‘s historically meaningful properties, and perhaps at the very top of historically meaningful properties that you can actually stay at.
Now before you start to imagine waking up in Anne Boleyn’s bedroom, it must be pointed out that that though the double moated castle dates back to the 13th Century their 28 B&B rooms are set in two Edwardian era extensions. That being said though, as a guest at Hever you are also allowed exclusive access to the castle itself, right up until midnight each day.
Named the Astor Wing and Anne Boleyn Wing, these two Edwardian extensions were built in 1903, in a tasteful mock Tudor style by the then castle owner, William Waldorf Astor, as extra accommodation for friends and family.
Each wing comes with its own dining and lounge area and they and the rooms display a strong sense of the medieval, with some gorgeous antique furniture, old tapestries and art pieces to be admired in a superbly comfortable setting. And guests also have access to the majestic, moat surrounded, castle itself and to the gorgeous 125 acre castle grounds.
Their 28 rooms are classified as Deluxe, Feature or Superior depending on their respective sizes and outside views. They range from single rooms of about 60 square feet to the Medley Court, a really gorgeous private self catering cottage to sleep up to 8 people. In general you’ll find all the rooms suitably plush and with particularly nice bathrooms. Check your options on the booking page here.
Some of the feature and superior rooms though also come with four poster beds, fireplaces, chaise-longues and the like which give them just that bit more of an old world style and atmosphere, at the very least Edwardian, if not medieval, and are really worth the extra splurge.
FACILITIES & THINGS TO DO:
Each extension has its own chic lounge and dining area where you will be treated to a lavish breakfast each morning. Later you can order daytime meals at one of the castle restaurants that also cater for day visitors, and later in the evenings (the restaurants close at 6 from the end of March to the end of December and at 4:30 the rest of the year) you can enjoy some fine pub grub in the, within walking distance, King Henry VIII Pub.
As mentioned above, staying here also allows free access to Hever Castle itself until midnight and the beautifully tended gardens and grounds.
You have tennis courts on the grounds too (you can borrow racquets etc. from reception) and you can also arrange golf at the Hever Golf Club which includes a state of the art indoor golf studio.
Kids will appreciate the playground and the 100 year old Yew Maze, and they have a nice boating lake too. During school holidays and at weekends you can also try your hand at the ancient sport of archery.
On the borders of Surrey, Sussex, and the Garden of England, Kent, the castle is one mile from its namesake village of Hever. Hever has a small unmanned train station that has trains to and from London Victoria, but with less frequency than from the town of Edenbridge about 3 miles away from where you can find a taxi to the castle with greater ease than if arriving at Hever.
The same journey by car should take about an hour, depending of course on traffic, while the journey from the also richly historical town of Tunbridge Wells will take not much more than 20 minutes.
The nearest international airport is Gatwick, less than a half an hour away while the journey from Heathrow should take about and hour.
The original Norman era castle, with its walled bailey and gatehouse dates all the way back to 1270 and was built by William de Hever William, a man who would became Sheriff of Kent two years later, not long after Edward I’s rise to the throne of England.
It didn’t take long for the Hever name to disappear from the timeline though. William had just two daughters, Margaret and Joan, and when he died the property was passed jointly to them. As the sisters were married to two brothers; William and Reginald Cobham, the property thus became synonymous with the Cobham surname.
This connection lasted around a hundred years until a John Cobham, acquired the wondrous title of Esquire of the Household under Richard II and upped sticks to help the Crown pacify Ireland. After that ownership would run through the Scrope, Fastolf and Fiennes families before the Boleyns moved in in 1462. The first owner was Geoffrey Boleyn, a former Lord Mayor of London. His grandson, Thomas, was Anne Boleyn’s father.
King Henry VIII’s courtship of Anne involved many love letters, seven of which were sent to Hever, for though she had spent most of her adolescence in France, and after her return in 1422, in the house of Catherine of Aragon, she would regularly return to her original homestead at the castle.
Read more about the history of Hever Castle:
After her execution in 1536 her father Thomas remained at Hever for a further 3 years alongside his elderly mother Margaret, before he himself, and then she, died, whereupon the castle ended up with his brother James. James had some debt issues though it seems, and was forced to sell it to the Crown by indenture less than a year after taking ownership.
In an ironic spirit of charity, King Henry, after divorcing Anne of Cleves, granted Clever to her and she would remain there until her death in 1557. The castle passed through such regal families as the Waldegraves, the Humphreys and the Meade Waldos.
The 19th Century under the Meade Waldos was a period of gentle decline before the property was bought by an American businessman, William Waldorf Astor, in 1903. Astor was a determined man who had a strong sense of nostalgia for old England and particularly for the iconic Tudor era.
He declared America ‘no longer a fit place for a gentleman to live’ and moved to England with the dream of carefully restoring Hever to be his family home. The renovation was a great success and the fabulous gardens you see today also date from that time, including the creation of the lake. He also tastefully built from scratch what he referred to as the Tudor Village where the accommodation now stands today.
He died in 1919 and the castle passed down two generations of the Astor family during which, in 1963, it became open to the public before it was deemed to expensive to run and in 1983 was sold to its present owners, the Guthrie Family under the guise of the Broadlands Property Group.
WHAT OTHER GUESTS SAY:
“Fabulous. An extraordinary experience, staying at Hever Castle. The attention to detail in the rooms and the pleasure of visiting the gardens and castle are unique…”
“Amazing stay for my girlfriend’s birthday; the rooms are immaculate, the bathroom is as grand as I’ve been in and staying in a castle is a memory we’ll never forget…”
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