Fresh spring the herald of love’s mighty king,
In whose coat armour richly are display’d
All sorts of flowers the which on earth do spring
In goodly colours gloriously array’d.
Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
Hever Castle is romantic and double-moated with a rich and varied history stretching back over seven centuries. The stone gatehouse and outer walls were constructed in the 13th century.
The castle is best known as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (1507-1536), and it was her family who added the comfortable Tudor manor house within these earlier walls in about 1500. King Henry VIII wooed Anne at Hever Castle and there are various exhibitions in the castle featuring Henry and Anne Boleyn. King Henry later gave Hever Castle to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves and there is an exhibition in the castle about Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII’s wives.
The American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor, acquired Hever Castle in 1903 and spent a great deal of time, money and imagination restoring it. Inside the castle the walls were covered with magnificent carving and panelling. The rooms are filled with wonderful antiques and works of art.
Between 1904 and 1908, William Astor further enhanced the castle’s romantic setting by creating glorious gardens. These included the unique Italian garden, the maze, 35 acre lake and the rose garden, all of which are now fully mature and spectacular throughout the seasons. The unique Italian garden contains statuary and sculpture dating from Roman to Renaissance times, collected in Italy and brought to Hever, where it forms a magnificent sight among the glorious display of shrubs and climbing and herbaceous plants. A Tudor herb garden close to the castle was opened in 1994.
Visitors can enjoy the Guthrie Collection of miniature model houses in a fascinating exhibition adjoining the gift shop. The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the history of English country houses from medieval to Victorian times.