Hever Castle

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Hever Castle
Hever, Edenbridge, Kent
Hever Castle 2014 06 20 1.jpg
Hever Castle in 2014
Hever Castle is located in Kent
Hever Castle
Hever Castle
Coordinates51°11′14″N 0°6′51″E / 51.18722°N 0.11417°E / 51.18722; 0.11417Coordinates: 51°11′14″N 0°6′51″E / 51.18722°N 0.11417°E / 51.18722; 0.11417
Grid referencegrid reference TQ478452
Site information
OwnerBroadland Properties Limited
Open to
the public
The bedroom of Henry VIII at Hever Castle

Hever Castle (/ˈhvər/ HEE-vər) is located in the village of Hever, Kent, near Edenbridge, 30 miles (48 km) south-east of London, England. It began as a country house, built in the 13th century. From 1462 to 1539, it was the seat of the Boleyn (originally 'Bullen') family.[1]

Anne Boleyn, the second queen consort of King Henry VIII of England, spent her early youth there after her father, Thomas Boleyn, inherited it in 1505. The castle passed to him upon the death of his father, Sir William Boleyn. It later came into the possession of King Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

The Grade I listed castle, now owned by the Guthrie family's Broadland Properties.


There have been three main periods in the construction of this historic castle. The oldest part of the castle dates to 1270 and consisted of the gatehouse and a walled bailey. It was then owned by James Fiennes, 1st Baron Saye and Sele.[2] The second period was when the castle, then in need of repair, was converted into a manor in 1462 by Geoffrey Boleyn, younger brother of Thomas Boleyn, Master of Gonville Hall, Cambridge. He added a Tudor dwelling within the walls. The third period of repair and renovation was in the 20th century, when it was acquired by William Waldorf Astor.[3]

Geoffrey Boleyn's grandson, Thomas Boleyn, inherited the castle in 1505. He lived there with his wife Lady Elizabeth Howard and their children George, Mary and Anne (the future wife of Henry VIII). It is not known if Anne was born at Hever (the year of her birth is not certain), but she lived there until she was sent to the Netherlands in 1513 to receive an education at the court of the Archduchess Margaret. Henry VIII often used the nearby Bolebroke Castle to conduct his courtship with Anne.[4]

The property came into the possession of Henry VIII after the death of Anne's father, Thomas Boleyn, in 1539. He bestowed it upon Anne of Cleves in 1540 as part of the settlement following the annulment of their marriage. Hever Castle still has one of Henry VIII's private locks, taken with him on his various visits to noblemen's houses and fitted to every door for his security.[5]

Hever Castle from the Moat, circa 1850, by David Cox Jr.

The property subsequently passed through various owners, including the Waldegrave family from 1557 to 1715, the Humfreys family to 1749 and the Meade-Waldo family from 1749 to 1903. During this latter period of ownership, the castle fell into a poor state of repair, during which time it was leased to various private tenants.[6]

In 1903, it was acquired and restored by the American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, who used it as a family residence.[7] He completed a restoration, added the Tudor village (also known as the Astor Wing)[8] and also added the Italian Garden to display his collection of statuary and ornaments.[9]

The castle has been Grade I listed since 10 September 1954; that was after the addition of the Tudor village, "a picturesque cluster of guest cottages".[10]

In 1983, the Astor family sold the castle to John Guthrie (1906-1992), chairman of the family run business, Broadland Properties Limited.

The castle was used as the location for a music video by Libera in 2006.[11] The Loggia on the lake was used as the location for a peace conference in the comedy-drama The Great. Other productions that have filmed on the property include The Princess Bride and Inkheart.[12]

Attractions for tourists[edit]

Hever Castle is now a tourist attraction, drawing on its links to Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, its mazes, gardens and lakes. There is an annual event programme with assorted events, including jousting tournaments and archery displays in the summer months and an annual patchwork and quilting exhibition in September. The castle has also become the venue for a triathlon and open water swimming.[13][14] The castle offers three floors containing antique furniture, Anne Boleyn's prayer books, instruments of torture, and a large collection of Tudor's paintings. There is also a museum of the Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry.[15]

The remains of the original country house timbers can still be seen within the stone walls of the fortification, while the gatehouse is the only original part of the castle. It has the oldest working original portcullis in England.[16] The grounds of the castle include a yew maze, planted in 1904. There is also a water maze, opened in 1999, the object of which is to reach the folly at the centre without getting wet, while in the children's adventure playground there is a tower maze (currently undergoing reconstruction). The castle gardens contain a wide range of features, including an Italianate garden (including Fernery), rose gardens, herb garden, and topiary.[17]

The castle can provide accommodations for visitors who wish to stay overnight, including 28 rooms that can be rented in a B&B format. Dining rooms for breakfasts are available in both the Astor wing and Anne Boleyn wing. The castle also operates three restaurants, located in the gardens.[18]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jenkins, Simon (2003). Discover Britain's historic houses. The Southeast. Pub. Reader's Digest. ISBN 0-276-44068-4. P. 43.
  2. ^ "Fiennes Family - Fiennes Family Owners of Hever Castle". Hever Castle.
  3. ^ "Castle". Hever Castle and Gardens. Hever Castle and Gardens.
  4. ^ "The Tudor Trail". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Simon (2003). Discover Britain's historic houses. The Southeast. Pub. Reader's Digest. ISBN 0-276-44068-4. P. 45.
  6. ^ "Meade Waldo". Hever Castle. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  7. ^ John Turner, ‘Astor, William Waldorf, first Viscount Astor (1848–1919)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004;
  8. ^ "Hever Castle History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation". Britain Express. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  9. ^ Brown, Jane (1999). The English Garden Through the 20th Century. England: Garden Art Press. ISBN 1870673298.
  10. ^ "Hever Castle". Historic England. Retrieved 5 September 2022. List Entry Number: 1273465
  11. ^ When A Knight Won His Spurs (soloist: Edward Day). LiberaUSA, 2006 (YouTube).
  12. ^ "History, Topiary, Beauty: Why You Should Visit Hever Castle". Londonist. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  13. ^ "Hever Castle Lake Swim | Triswim".
  14. ^ Hever Castle Triathlon website Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum". Sharpshooters. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Hever Castle". Pastscape. Archived from the original on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Spotlight on the garden: topiary walk". Hever Castle. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Hever Castle Edenbridge, Kent, England". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2022. The 28 bedrooms are spread between the ground and first floors of the two wings.

External links[edit]