A Visit to Hever Castle

As part of the Jubilee Celebrations this weekend, we spent a glorious day at Hever Castle!

Hever, an incredibly romantic 13th Century Castle

kent, the garden of england

Hever Castle is situated in the English County of Kent, near Edenbridge, around 30 miles South-East of London. Kent itself, is a beautifully verdant County, often nick-named ‘The Garden of England.’ When driving through the pleasant leafy lanes and pretty villages, it’s not hard to see why. Kent is home to acres and acres of ancient woodland and is choc-full of beautiful gardens, both public and private. It’s generously peppered with historic places of interest to visit, such as Chartwell (home of Wiston Churchill), Sissinghurst and Canterbury Cathedral originally founded in the year 597!

Views over Kent, from Toy’s Hill, Westerham Chart, Kent.
Emily & Winston Churchill, on Westerham Green, Kent

hever’s history

Hever Castle may not be quite as old as Canterbury Cathedral, but its history does span back some 700 years! Originally built in 1270, Hever was a typical medieval defensive castle with gatehouse and walled bailey (a courtyard enclosed by a curtain wall). During the 15th and 16th Centuries, it became the home to the Boleyn’s, one of the most powerful families in the country.

Hever was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the tragically ill-fated second wife of King Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn, Queen for 1000 days, was the mother of Elizabeth I, and played a huge role in England’s departure from Catholicism and the establishment of the Church of England at the start of the Reformation.

rESTORATION

As the centuries passed, the Castle gradually fell into decline. In 1903, it was bought by William Waldorf Aster, a wealthy American man with a passion for History.

He poured much money and time into restoring the castle and its extensive grounds, commissioning a Tudor Village, and creating the huge lake that was dug out by hand!

Side view of the castle with Aster’s Tudor Village’

Today, the castle is still privately owned, but it has become a much-loved place for the public to visit, attracting visitors from all over the world, all year round.

There is always something interesting going on at Hever, including jousting, open air theatre showings, fireworks displays, concerts and all sorts of other events. In fact, you can even get married at Hever – Can you imagine?

Without further ado, I really hope you enjoy some of the photos of the Castle and gardens from our visit. Apparently, we didn’t manage to see everything – which is always the perfect excuse to go back!

Hever is famous for its stunning topiary displays
The Castle entrance, suitably adorned for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee

As you can see, some of the Queen’s Corgi’s were missing in the Castle Grounds as part of the Jubilee Celebrations!

The Italian Garden with huge Trellis of Wisteria
The roses were out in force!
What a wonderful day out!

Trip To The Cotswolds

When my husband announced last month, that we were going to the Cotswolds, images of Lilliput Lane style cottages, trickling rivers and stone bridges instantly sprang to mind.

Turned out I was right about those things. But as the trip loomed, and we began planning our route, I soon realised that my knowledge of the area was extremely limited.

I had no idea that the Cotswolds was such a vast area, spanning almost 800 square miles, and five different English Counties – namely: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire!

Lechlade on Thames

I had no idea either that the River Thames flowed as far away from London as Gloucestershire – and that the village we would be staying in, Lechlade-on-Thames, was situated on the highest navigational point along the River.

St. Lawrence’s Church spire, standing tall over Lechlade-on-Thames
It was fun to meet Little Jen, the donkey, outside the church on Palm Sunday!

Lechlade is a lovely little town with a friendly feel. It’s full of charming shops, inviting looking pubs and restaurants, and its fair share of stone cottages!

It’s also a wonderful place for walkers – St John’s Lock is situated nearby, and we spent a lovely morning ambling along the canal path.

cirencester

The County of Gloucestershire has so much to offer. We so enjoyed driving past fields of green, with plenty of wide-open space – a welcome change from the congested London suburb we live in. The Spring flowers were out in full force, and many of the Cotswold villages looked even more beautiful with an abundance of daffodils and tulips.

Gloucestershire also boasts plenty of towns and cities to explore, including Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud and Cirencester – a handsome and historic Market Town, dating back to the Roman era. Cirencester is a wonderful place to browse, with interesting, high-end shops, selling anything from household furnishings to artisan cakes and pastries.

BIBURY

Our trip to the Cotswolds would not have been complete without a visit to at least one of the quintessential villages that make this area so famous.

Bibury is arguably the most photographed village in the Cotswolds.

As soon as we got out of the car, it wasn’t difficult to see why. From the old water mill, recently transformed into a working trout farm, to the lovely hotel and fast flowing river, Bibury is an utterly idyllic place!

It’s famous for Arlington Row, a row of weaver’s cottages dating back to the 14th Century. and recorded in the Doomsday Book.

It’s hard to fully describe or photograph the curving sweep of stone cottages, situated alongside the gurgling River Coln. Pictures really do not do this place justice. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and so rich in history – it’s hard not to imagine the generations of people who may have lived and worked in these cottages.

Arlington Row

We left the Cotswolds feeling revitalised and rested and as though our senses had been soothed by all the beautiful scenery. We also had the strong feeling that we had only just scratched the surface of all the wonderful places to explore! Not a bad place to end a trip I suppose…

It gives you the perfect excuse to return some day.