Early May I spent some days in London, Great Britain. I met with one of my royalty friends on one of these days for a visit to Hever Castle and Penshurst Place. Unfortunately we had really British weather. In between the rain showers however we even managed to see the gardens.
Hever Castle in Hever, Edenbridge, Kent, is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second of the six wives of King Henry VIII. The castle is more than 700 years old, being built around 1270. The castle changed owners several times: de Hever, de Cobham, Scrope, Fiennes, Bullen (Boleyn; 1462-1539), Waldegrave, Humphreys, Meade Waldo. 1540-1557 it was even in the possession of Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. However it was the American William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor of Hever, who restored and extended the castle in the early 20th century. He acquired lots of the items that can be seen today. He also had the wonderful gardens created. In 1983 the family sold the house to Broadland Properties Limited. The estate is now used as a conference centre. The castle and gardens are open to the public.
Of course the castle focuses on its links to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I also enjoyed the rooms focusing on the Astor family. When entering the castle the first rooms you will see are the drawing room, created by William Waldorf Astor and the Inner Hall with panelling and richly carved columns. Here you find some antique furniture as well as portraits of King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and King Edwards VI, of course Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary. There are many rooms and halls, like the dining hall, Astors library, and on the upper floor of course you will find Anne Boleyn’s small bedroom and King Henry VIII’s bedchamber. I thought it was nice that there was also a bit of history about the royal family and some of the owners of the castle.
Also the long gallery is lovely and shows some of the history of the relationship between Anne and Henry. Anne Boleyn likely grew up at Hever Castle. At the age of 13 she joined the household of Margaret of Austria in the Netherlands, then became a maid-of-honor to Henry VIII’s sister Mary, who married King Louis XII of France, and Queen Claude of France. Only in 1522 she returned to England and soon became lady-in-waiting to Henry’s first wife Catherine. After having had an affair with Anne’s sister Mary, Henry turned to Anne around 1525 and started visiting Hever regularly. In the end Henry divorced Catherine to be able to marry Anne. She was crowned Queen of England in 1533 and gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. 1536 Henry had her imprisoned, accused her of incest and adultery and had her beheaded. Henry would marry another four times. Anne’s daughter Elizabeth in 1558 became Queen of England, and reigned until 1603.
If you have some time, don’t miss the nice souvenir shop, the garden shop or the restaurant where they have delicious cakes.
Thanks so much Sue for driving me around. Loved our day at the countryside, despite of all the rain and traffic craze.