Our great day out in April
Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and attracts a lot of tourism and interest. We visited the castle a few years ago, but what stayed in my memory were the gardens. We love visiting gardens for inspiration and love each one for its unique style. However, there is something special about Hever. So when my husband suggested we visit again over Easter, I jumped at the chance.
Before you visit, I recommend that you take a look at their website. You can find all the information you need here and can check for special events. I particularly like that Hever is dog friendly and we were able to take our little dog, who enjoyed her day out with us.
We visited on Easter Sunday, in April, and I recommend that you go early in the day. There were already queues at the entrance but we didn’t have to wait too long to buy our tickets. Going early gave us the chance to take some photos of the castle and gardens whilst it was still relatively empty of people.
As soon as we arrived at the entrance gate, we were greeted by a beautiful display of tulips lining the way towards the gate. Spring is tulip time and Hever certainly made the most of showing off these beautiful blooms.
A beautiful view
As soon as you walk through the entrance gate you get a fantastic view of the castle and grounds. On your left there is a children’s adventure playground which, judging from the excited shrieks and laughter coming from it, looked like a lot of fun. The facilities at Hever are great, plenty of toilets, places to eat, picnic areas and a lot of entertainment for little ones. Hever Castle seems to also be a venue for outdoor concerts so it’s worth checking their website for details of upcoming shows.
The short walk to the castle is impressive. There is a lot of topiary and my favourites are the deer and the pig. We were also greeted by some very friendly ducks!
A view from above
If you walk straight on from the castle, you will pass the Italian garden and reach the lake. However, we took a different route and turned in the direction facing the castle and walked towards some grand looking stairs leading to a water fall.
Once you reach the top of the stairs, you face a stone wall with a water fall. All around you there are rhododendrons, azaleas and some amazing ferns that looked quite alien. The ferns were getting ready to unfurl and added a magical touch to the whole area.
From the top of the grand stair case, there were some rather rustic stone steps to our right. Once you get to the top and manage to catch your breath back, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the castle and grounds from up high.
That part of the grounds is quite elevated and the views are stunning. There were daffodils everywhere and we made our way down to the Italian garden past some impressive trees. One of them was a pine which had the most incredible pom-pom like needles.
An Italian garden in Kent
This part of the grounds is breathtaking. You are immediately transported to a romantic past in the Italian garden. I truly felt like I was abroad. The beautiful Italian sculptures everywhere and the stunning planting were only surpassed by the views from the Loggia to the lake. The Loggia is a stunning architectural feature based on the Trevi fountain in Rome. You can hire boats and I loved that they were all called after the wives of Henry the VIII and Tudor queens.
Once we managed to tear ourselves away from the lake and fountain, we strolled past endless displays of tulips and other spring-flowering blossoms. Everywhere we looked there was something interesting to explore, from statues to urns, and beautifully manicured grounds.
Walking back to Tudor times
After the formality and architectural features of the Italian garden, we walked back in the direction of the castle. This part of the gardens is more informal and full of interesting things to see and do. There is a very handy interactive map on the Hever Castle website, which gives you a really good idea of all the things you can experience during your visit. We didn’t fully explore everything but if you are planning on taking children, you can fill a whole day with activities such as archery, painting a shield or getting lost in the water maze or the more traditional yew maze.
Staying at Hever Castle
I didn’t know this but you can actually stay the night at Hever. There are two opportunities to do this, one being the Luxury Bed and Breakfast in the Astor Wing and Anne Boleyn Wing which are attached to the Castle. The other one is in their five-star gold rated holiday cottage, Medley Court, attached to the Astor Wing. I can just imagine what a fantastic experience that would be, sleeping in a castle! And not just any castle, but a castle with fabulous gardens and a rich history.
I can wholeheartedly recommend you visit Hever Castle gardens, as a family, there is so much to do and see. As a couple, we had a fantastic time there and felt very inspired to take some of the elements we saw and incorporate them into our own garden at home. On a much smaller scale though!
I hope this post has given you some ideas and encouraged you to visit Hever. Let me know if you have already been, I’d love to hear about your experience.
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