Visiting Hever Castle Childhood Home of Anne Boleyn

February 13, 2018
February 13, 2018 Hilary

Visiting Hever Castle Childhood Home of Anne Boleyn

I’ve always been fascinated by Tudor history and royal life in general, so I couldn’t have been more excited about our visit to Hever Castle the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. You probably already know, but just in case… Anne Boleyn was the 2nd wife of King Henry VIII and mother to Queen Elizabeth I.

Over the course of it’s 700 year history Hever castle has been home to 37 different owners including another of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleves (wife number four), and William Waldorf Astor who was the richest man in America. It was Astor who brought the castle back to its former glory, and to the state in which its in now.

Hever Castle Tudor Village Kent England United Kingdom

The Tudor Village at Hever was built by William Astor to accommodate his guests

Our visit to Hever took place during the winter holidays, which meant there were a number of special events going on at the Castle both day and night. Clare, of Suitcases and Sandcastles, and her family are frequent visitors to the Castle, and we were delighted to have them as our guides.

Father Christmas

Our first stop was a visit to Father Christmas in his grotto. The whole experience was really quite magical, and very different from what we’ve experienced here in the United States.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

Stepping into the Grotto I felt a bit like we were walking into Narnia. There was an entire forest inside the tent, which from outside looked quite normal. It must have been magic!

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

After checking in for our appointment* the boys were given markers and paper with which to write their letters to Father Christmas. A very short while later one of the elves came to collect the boys and as we walked through the forest we searched the trees for hidden animals.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

After a short chat, my boys are quite shy, Father Christmas gave each of the boys beautifully wrapped presents to take home with them!

The Maze & Gardens

Next up we explored the Castle’s 100 year old yew maze. Built by William Astor, the hedges are 8 feet tall, and with a quarter mile of pathways to explore getting to the center is harder than you might think.

Hever Castle Maze Kent England United Kingdom

Entering the maze…

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

Elliot & Harry solving the Hever Castle Maze

We split up into groups and after wandering around for a while I found Simon who was much better at navigating the maze than I was, and before too long we made it to the center! Hooray!

Hever Castle Maze Kent England United Kingdom

The Center of the Maze

Having worked up an appetite solving the maze and exploring the gardens we decided lunch at the Moat Restaurant would be our next stop.

The sun peeked out for a few moments, so we enjoyed our food outside while playing with our gifts from Father Christmas.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

View of the Castle from the Moat Restaurant

The Castle

After lunch it was finally time to visit the castle! I opted for the audio tour and really enjoyed it. The Castle isn’t particularly large, and even taking my time, and many photos, I still got through in about 90 minutes.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The Courtyard 

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The Inner Hall

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The Astor Drawing Room

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The Waldegrave Room

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The Long Gallery

Somehow knowing that at one time Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII stood in the very rooms I was standing in made them seem more real, and less like two characters in a book. Reading about historical figures is one thing, but there is something about walking into their bedroom that really brings them to life. Even 100s of years after their deaths.

Artifacts within the castle include Anne’s illuminated prayer books, original letters exchanged between Anne and Henry both during their courtship and at the end of their relationship, and a Jacobite Rhyming Sword.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

Jacobite Rhyming Sword

The Castle was dressed up inside and out for the festive season, and each room had a different carol playing with a corresponding Christmas tree and the history of the carol on display.

The Adventure Playground

While I happily wandered inside the castle taking my sweet time the boys took advantage of the daylight and explored the Adventure Playground.

Hever Castle Adventure Playground England United Kingdom

After a lovely day exploring we went home for tea and a rest before returning for the Castle’s evening festivities.

Hever Castle At Night

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

When we came back for the evening festivities the Castle grounds were lit beautifully including a magical 12 Days of Christmas Trail. The trail included everything from the Partridge in a Pear Tree to the 12 Drummers Drumming! Night photos without a tripod were near impossible, but we did manage a few!

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The Castle’s grounds, including the lake, were lit beautifully.

There was a  vintage fairground located just in front of the Castle, which was complete with carousel, fun house, and a Coconut Shy game.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

Afterwards, another look through the castle this time with the entire group at a much quicker pace. I was more than a little thankful about my earlier visit.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The castle was lit in rainbow colors.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

The boys in the Inner Hall

We did get some fun photos with the boys in front of the various holiday decorations, and as we were leaving “snow” was falling in the courtyard.

Hever Castle Kent England United Kingdom

We’ve got it pretty good these days, you know, with flushing indoor toilets, running water, heat, laundry machines, modern medicine you get the idea, but I do like the idea of walking in the footsteps of history. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to visit some pretty amazing historic places many of them royal and all of them old!

Tips & Advice:

  • Check the official website for operating hours and special events.
  • Father Christmas is very popular. For the best experience an advance appointment is highly recommended.
  • On leash dogs are allowed on the castle grounds, but not in the adventure playground.
  • Hever Castle is located 30 miles from central London, 3 miles southeast of Edenbridge off the B2026 between Sevenoaks and East Grinstead in the village of Hever.

You might also be interested in these other castle related posts:

London: Historic Palaces & Royal Residences
Along The Way… Surprise! Another Castle!
24 Hours in Edinburgh

Pin for later:

Hever Castle & Gardens Kent England #hevercastle

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I love to travel & explore the world both near and far! I do my best to make the most out of life each and everyday! I have two boys and they are, at the ages of 13 and 18, world travelers and all around go along guys. There isnt anywhere I cant take them. It is my hope this blog will be a way to share the fun things Ive learned while on our many adventures together!

Comments (30)

  1. Love! 🙂

    Anne has always been a favorite of mine and this is definitely on my top places to visit in England, along with other Tudor landmarks too!

    • Hilary

      I’m So glad you enjoyed it! It was definitely a bucket list item of mine!!

  2. Esther

    What an interesting place to visit! I can only imagine how much horror it has seen way back when…

  3. I have been twice to Hever Castle and LOVED it! It’s one of my favorites but whooowee it’s adorbs at Christmas! And so many other things I must have missed before! Still need to take my husband, so it’s a good excuse to go back! #FarawayFiles

  4. Looks like Christmas is the perfect time to pay Hever Castle a visit. I loved The Other Boleyn Girl book and would be fascinated by the history as well. It is super trippy to think that the REAL people were once in those same halls. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  5. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    I’ve still not been to Hever Castle and it looks so beautiful all dressed up for Christmas. How wonderful you had Clare as your guide too! This has definitely enticed me to go.

    • Hilary

      Have you watched the Tudors? I know it’s a loose interpretation, but I love it all the same!

  6. Hever Castle at night sounds – looks – absolutely magical. I love all the lights. How great you got see it both during the day and night. I am a history lover too and find it fascinating to walk “in the steps of history” or however you phrased it! #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      Ha ha! It was very magical, especially getting to visit with Clare and her lovely family!

  7. I have been fascinated by Henry VIII and his wives since learning about them in history class way, way back. I’d love to visit Hever Castle,and it seems even better around Christmas time. All the christmas decor makes me wonder how they would have spent special holidays back in the day. Also, it’s so nice that your sons got gifts!

    • Hilary

      It’s always fun to imagine what holidays must have been like in different eras isn’t it!?

  8. Ruth

    I am a total fan of castles and the story behind them. I have said I can visit a castle a day for long period of time. What I like about this particular castle is that is a total package. It is not only the building, there is a lot to do around. I think you visit at an ideal time of the year. #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      It was definitely an ideal time to visit! I’m with you, I also love castles!

  9. Clare Thomson

    Hever Castle at Christmas is such a wonderful place to be. It was such a pleasure and a treat to share it this year with you and your boys. I can’t believe I still can’t find my way around that maze! You’ll have to come back and see it in the summer for the water maze, jousting tournaments and picnics on the lawn. Xx #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      We would love to come back in the summer! You can absolutely count on it sometime in the future!

  10. Hever Castle looks amazing, especially at Christmas. You seem to have packed an impressive amount into your trip to the UK! #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      It was very magical! We sure did pack in a lot… I’m still working on future posts to share!

  11. This looks fabulous, I love a visit to a historic house. I have never been to Hever Castle, I must put that right! #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      It’s definitely worth a visit! Lots of history and beautiful gardens to explore!

  12. That sounds like a really fun day out! I love the decorations and that you got your sons to stay still for photos! I should learn your ways! #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      Haha! They don’t always stay still, but I take A LOT of photos! We had a ton of fun!!

  13. What fantastic photos! It looks as if you had an amazing time there. I took my boys were younger and they loved it. But last night, i found out that you can actually stay there and I’ve just blogged about it. I’m like you in that I love to immerse myself in all things historical and get transported back to times gone by. But with your stunning photos, I’m sure we’ll head back at Christmas!

    • Hilary

      We did have a wonderful time! I noticed that you can stay there and next time we are nearby we are definitely looking Into that! Talk about immersion!

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