The view from the leaded windows of the Edward VII Suite is mesmerising. Cold winter mist rolls eerily over the moat which frames Hever Castle. Perfectly proportioned, and bathed in light, you can peer through the darkened windows at its wood panelled rooms, decked in tapestries and carvings. Set within Hever’s majestic Italianate gardens, literally a stones throw from the Castle building, you soon feel like an honoured weekend guest of the Boleyn family, a time traveller invited back for an evening at a Tudor Castle of immense beauty and historical importance.
Famous for being the Home of the Boleyn’s, the original medieval Castle was actually built in 1270, and Anne Boleyn was born here in the first few years of the 1500’s. She, of course, went on to become Henry VIII’s second wife, and Queen of England for 1000 days, which saw her husband renounce Catholicism and create the Church of England, before she was beheaded for treason, adultery, incest, and plotting to kill the King. So you can perhaps appreciate why a stay at Hever gives you a privileged glimpse at one of the most important Castles in the History of our Great country.
It was undoubtedly this illustrious history that attracted the American gentleman William Waldorf Astor in 1903 when he bought the by then dilapidated Hever, and used his considerable creativity and energy to reinvigorate and restore the entire Estate whilst he lived in the Castle building. It was at this time that the Tudor Village was envisaged, a luxury B and B to accommodate visitors and which boast such comfortable accommodation today . A man of great wealth, Astor was able to indulge his passion for history and recreate the former Glory of Hever.
The Guthrie family took the job on in 1983, and have continued to invest hugely in the Estate, expanding its impressive collection of Tudor Art work, revamping the Tudor Village, and installing luxury conveniences that are of the highest standard. Just one example of their extraordinary commitment to Hever is the Japanese Tea House Folly, set on the edge of the enormous lake. A reconstruction of Astor’s original Tea House which stood here over 100 years ago and built partly from Hever Estate timber, this striking structure was erected to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their purchase of Hever. The gardens are extensive and beautifully designed, littered with Italian Renaissance sculpture, and fountains, installed by William Astor after his tenure as American Ambassador to Italy.
The Tudor Village, which houses the Bed and Breakfast accommodation has been comfortably and stylishly furnished in the Tudor Style. Decorated with old maps and wall tapestries, the bedroom was warm and inviting, with a huge, comfortable bed and luxurious bathroom with a modern walk in power shower and beautiful free standing bath. The perfect blend of the old and the new.
Wandering along the labrynthine corridors, we found an imposing Billiard room watched over by wall mounted Stags heads, an elegant drawing room, and several function rooms to entertain the multitude of wedding parties that Hever welcomes. The staff were friendly and professional and the breakfast was extensive and varied. The dining room, bathed in morning light has some of the most intricate and impressive wood carving of its time. If you haven’t stayed at Hever, there’s no doubt it’s a hidden gem. In fact, it may very well be the Jewel in the Crown.