8.09.2018

A DAY AT HEVER CASTLE IN KENT


Recently I spent a day out in Kent with some friends in the countryside village of Hever. The town was the perfect getaway for a fun day out of London. It's only 42 minutes away by train from London Bridge. While my friends went for a 3 miles walk in the Eden Valley (walk 9) before meeting me, I skipped the walk (I was still recovering from a broken ankle) so I went ahead to visit inside Hever Castle.
 
Hever Castle was built in the 13th century and used to be the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was acquired and restored by an American millionaire William Waldorf Astor. He used the castle as a family residence and he added most of the gardens around it, and especially the Italian Gardens to display his collection of statues and ornaments.
The castle has a lot of splendid rooms that contain tudor paintings, fine furniture, tapestries and antiques. My favourite things in the castle were the dining hall, the view from the first floor window with a direct view onto the little cottage behind the castle; and the very kitsch Liberty style bedrooms on the top floor from the 1960s.
 
What I appreciated the most about Hever castle, like most of my friends too was the 125 acres of gardens around the castle, especially the Italian gardens and the long walk around the lake.
What I liked the most in the Italian Gardens was walking under the Pergola Walk with its shaded grottoes planted with ferns and moisture plants. I also loved the Loggia at the lake end of the garden with its pillared colonnades, balustrade steps to the piazza with a sculpture inspired by the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
 
 
On a sunny day, if you spend some time in the Italian Gardens, you'll definitely forget that you're in the middle of England and feel like in the south of Europe.

I was totally blown away by the flower meadows around the lake, it was a flower heaven with fourteen species including marigold, cornflower, flax, common poppy and cosmos bipinnatus. I was completely under the floral spell.
 
If you are also looking for some fun activities and events, every summer you can attend the annual Summer jousting tournaments in July and August on the event field. The tournament was alright, it was a fun thing to watch but I'm not sure I will attend another one any time soon. Kids seem to enjoy it a lot, so it's probably a good activity for families rather than a bunch of almost-thirties! The next tournaments are on the 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 24th and 27th August. You can find more details about the jousting here.

 
After visiting Hever Castle, the gardens and attending the jousting tournament, we completed our day out with a quick stop at the local pub King Henry VIII as our train back to London was delayed. They served really nice pub food, the decoration was very traditional. It can get very busy as it's the only place around the castle that serves alcohol, and probably also the only pub around this little village.

Visiting Hever Castle made me want to explore more the countryside of Britain and visit more castles. This is only the beginning of many day trips!
  

 

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